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What kind of universe do we need to live in for induction to work?
Posted: 12 November 2011 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 06:46 AM
dougsmith - 12 November 2011 06:31 AM

I’m not exactly clear on how the theory of natural kinds differs from that of universals. A “kind” after all, is something that is wholly present in each of its instances, like a property.

No difference, I assume. I just find it a bit clearer than universals. ‘Universals’ remind me too much of Plato… I still get shivers about the question if the universal ‘horse’ exists, even if there is no single instantiation of a horse.

BTW, I ordered ‘Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics’ of D. M. Armstrong. Thanks for the hint.

Stephen, if you buy it too we can discuss it here!

That’s not one I’ve read. I have his book on Universals which is very good, as well as a couple of others. (They’re somewhere in my bookshelf).

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Posted: 12 November 2011 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 06:46 AM

I still get shivers about the question if the universal ‘horse’ exists, even if there is no single instantiation of a horse.

Well ... but surely in the early universe before any molecules had formed there would have been the potential for water, planets and life. That’s true if they’re understood as a natural kinds or properties/universals. In this case the thing (kind/property/universal) should be understood as a real potential, right?

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Posted: 12 November 2011 07:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 06:42 AM
StephenLawrence - 12 November 2011 03:19 AM

It’s not enough that I never will GdB, it needs to be the case that either I can’t or it’s highly objectively improbable. That’s because otherwise natural kinds do not help with the problem of induction.

I think I answered your original question.
From other threads you already know that for me ‘probability’ is a concept that does not apply to deterministic laws of nature. (I assume you noticed with how much care Doug reacted on your idea of ‘epistemic probability’.)

Yes but nor does necessity. I don’t see how constraint can have meaning other than objective probability or objective necessity, what philosophers call nomological or nomic necessity.

Let’s try to flesh out the concept of ‘probability’ a little. Probability is normally used as an expression for the fact that I do not have detailed knowledge about the events under consideration, or about the laws of nature involved. What exactly will happen is determined by initial conditions (the weight of the die, how the person throwing the die is moving, the kind of surface of the die and the table etc etc.) and the laws of nature involved (gravity, friction, mechanics etc). As only a tiny difference in the initial conditions can make a difference there is no practical way I can predict what the throw will be: a one or six.

Ok. But somehow we can have the useful informastion that given what we know the probability of either number coming up is the same. (in normal cases)

A different case is QM. In QM we principally cannot know the exact initial conditions, and even if we could know, the laws of nature in QM are not deterministic exactly when we want to translate back to observables. The surprising fact is that obviously in our interaction with quantum nature there is a principal limit we cannot dive under. So the probability element cannot be reduced to a necessary level of detail for exact predictions.

I don’t think this is quite right, I don’t think the idea is simply that we cannot know.

Now, given this meaning of probability, can we say that the laws of nature themselves are probable or not? In my view this makes no sense, it is a category mistake. Laws of nature are no causes themselves, they are descriptions of how events are causally related to others. They describe how a die behaves when thrown. But the cause of the ‘six-above’ is the throwing, there is no question about that.

Probability is graded possibility. If there is more than one type of possibility and if there is more than one type which can be graded or is graded, then it makes sense.

And we might need more than one type. What if by some gigantic coincidence every time a die was thrown it landed on 6, the probability would still be 1 in 6. So where does that probability come from?

Saying that a ‘natural law is probable’ makes only sense when spoken by a scientist, who has still not found out how the causal relationship between certain events is.

Many think Causes raise probabilities, what sought of probability are they talking about? I don’t see how it can be the sought you are talking about? Others think they necessitate their effects as Hume did and as the layman usually does and you think they are regularities.

If there were no natural kinds at all, science would be impossible.

They need to be the reason induction works somehow or science would still be impossible. I notice Armstrong does introduce nomological necessity. And note Doug uses the word “constraining”.

But as said, having pre-knowledge of all instantiations of natural kinds, science would be purely deductive.

Hmm, now we have the problem of other physically possible worlds, now I know you say these are just to do with language but the language still needs to make sense somehow. It seems to me you should be able to deduce that this is the only physically possible world, without an indeterministic beginning, which you say is not necessary.

I know I’m just puzzling over the few same questons but perhaps, if I keep going, I will come to some conclusions that I’m happy with.

It’s clear as mud at the moment.

Stephen

[ Edited: 12 November 2011 07:56 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 12 November 2011 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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dougsmith - 12 November 2011 07:42 AM

Well ... but surely in the early universe before any molecules had formed there would have been the potential for water, planets and life. That’s true if they’re understood as a natural kinds or properties/universals. In this case the thing (kind/property/universal) should be understood as a real potential, right?

Write4U, is that you?  tongue rolleye

Sorry, couldn’t avoid it…

But what do you think in this respect of the universal ‘horse’?

dougsmith - 12 November 2011 07:38 AM

That’s not one I’ve read. I have his book on Universals which is very good, as well as a couple of others. (They’re somewhere in my bookshelf).

That sounded too technical for me. Don’t forget, I am not a professional philosopher. I am ‘out’ for more than 20 years already… One stays infected by an academic study in philosophy forever, but the skill and knowledge decrease after such a long time.

‘Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics’ is of 2010, quite new, and from the description and the ‘Look inside’ of Amazon, I think it is some kind of overview. Not too many pages and not too expensive as well.

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Posted: 12 November 2011 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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StephenLawrence - 12 November 2011 07:53 AM

It’s clear as mud at the moment.

Seems so…

Stephen, I really think that it would help if you restrain your use of highly technical and philosophical vocabulary, and try to pin down your thoughts with as concrete as possible examples (like the die). This would be advantageous for you and for me. As said in my posting to Doug above, I am out of academic philosophy quite a while and I do not like to try to understand your postings where you are using such philosophical terminology. Your use of these concepts also feeds the suspicion that you are not clear at all in what you are saying.

I think I am saying in a friendly way the same as Darron is saying about your writing style. I don’t want to spend too much time on thinking what you might have meant, instead of thinking about the clear content of what you are writing. Clear thoughts can be written down clearly, without looking up what you mean on SEP, Wikipedia, etc. I also try this as much as possible.

OK?

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Posted: 12 November 2011 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 09:14 AM
StephenLawrence - 12 November 2011 07:53 AM

It’s clear as mud at the moment.

Seems so…

Stephen, I really think that it would help if you restrain your use of highly technical and philosophical vocabulary, and try to pin down your thoughts with as concrete as possible examples (like the die). This would be advantageous for you and for me. As said in my posting to Doug above, I am out of academic philosophy quite a while and I do not like to try to understand your postings where you are using such philosophical terminology. Your use of these concepts also feeds the suspicion that you are not clear at all in what you are saying.

I think I am saying in a friendly way the same as Darron is saying about your writing style. I don’t want to spend too much time on thinking what you might have meant, instead of thinking about the clear content of what you are writing. Clear thoughts can be written down clearly, without looking up what you mean on SEP, Wikipedia, etc. I also try this as much as possible.

OK?

Thanks for trying to help. I’ve read my last post and don’t see this applying in that case.

Things are as clear as mud because I bump into problems which ever way I look.

So on induction, I can imagine two theories, one which predicts gravity will change tomorrow and one which doesn’t and I can see that there is nothing about the world as it is or was which tells me which is right because in both theories the situaton is precisely the same, up to now.

On the problem of physically possible things that don’t happen, it’s unclear how that can be under the restrictions you give, which is why it’s clear as mud to me. Doug removes one restriction and allows for an objectively indeterministic first moment. (not related to knowledge)

I’ve started using the term nomic or nomological necessity having come to understand it. In the post, I also explained what I meant and explained that I couldn’t understand constraint without either that or some objective restriction of probability, not just to do with knowledge.

What does constraint mean to you?

There is a difference between thinking causes necessitate their effects and simply believing the effects always follow. It’s this necessity which is nomic or nomological, the term physical necessity can simply be used instead but that might be confused with a kind of banal necessity by definition. So if gravity is a natural law it can’t change by definition.

I brought up probabilistic causation because some believe in it and it appears to be objective probability rather than knowledge related.

Stephen

[ Edited: 12 November 2011 10:13 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 12 November 2011 12:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 08:58 AM
dougsmith - 12 November 2011 07:42 AM

Well ... but surely in the early universe before any molecules had formed there would have been the potential for water, planets and life. That’s true if they’re understood as a natural kinds or properties/universals. In this case the thing (kind/property/universal) should be understood as a real potential, right?

Write4U, is that you?  tongue rolleye

Sorry, couldn’t avoid it…

But what do you think in this respect of the universal ‘horse’?

Well ... my position is that true universals are those that enter into scientific laws of one sort or another. If there is a scientific law with the term ‘horse’ (something I rather doubt), then there is a universal for it. There may be certain biological universals which are not quite so specific as naming one species. And if there are, there will be a very, very large number of them indeed, one for each potential biological species.

GdB - 12 November 2011 08:58 AM

‘Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics’ is of 2010, quite new, and from the description and the ‘Look inside’ of Amazon, I think it is some kind of overview. Not too many pages and not too expensive as well.

OK, just saying I don’t know it so can’t really comment. (I don’t even know what he’s on about nowadays. I’ve been out of philosophy for awhile now, too).

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Posted: 12 November 2011 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 08:58 AM
dougsmith - 12 November 2011 07:42 AM

Well ... but surely in the early universe before any molecules had formed there would have been the potential for water, planets and life. That’s true if they’re understood as a natural kinds or properties/universals. In this case the thing (kind/property/universal) should be understood as a real potential, right?

Write4U, is that you?  tongue rolleye

Sorry, couldn’t avoid it…

Yep,  thank you Doug…. grin

But what do you think in this respect of the universal ‘horse’?

The universal potential for a horse existed, witness the Lippizaners

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Posted: 12 November 2011 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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dougsmith - 12 November 2011 12:42 PM
GdB - 12 November 2011 08:58 AM
dougsmith - 12 November 2011 07:42 AM

Well ... but surely in the early universe before any molecules had formed there would have been the potential for water, planets and life. That’s true if they’re understood as a natural kinds or properties/universals. In this case the thing (kind/property/universal) should be understood as a real potential, right?

Write4U, is that you?  tongue rolleye

Sorry, couldn’t avoid it…

But what do you think in this respect of the universal ‘horse’?

Well ... my position is that true universals are those that enter into scientific laws of one sort or another. If there is a scientific law with the term ‘horse’ (something I rather doubt), then there is a universal for it. There may be certain biological universals which are not quite so specific as naming one species. And if there are, there will be a very, very large number of them indeed, one for each potential biological species.

IMO, yes, in the beginning the potential existed for everything that ever was, is, and will be, i.e. universal potential.
Does that need to mean the “potential image” of the horse existed?  Is that necessary?
IMO, potential is dualistic. Sufficient potential of a kind allows things to happen, but insufficient potential or incompatible potentials also restrict things from happening.

[ Edited: 12 November 2011 05:25 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 November 2011 07:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Write4U - 12 November 2011 05:10 PM

IMO, yes, in the beginning the potential existed for everything that ever was, is, and will be, i.e. universal potential.
Does that need to mean the “potential image” of the horse existed?  Is that necessary?
IMO, potential is dualistic. Sufficient potential of a kind allows things to happen, but insufficient potential or incompatible potentials also restrict things from happening.

Again, there needs to be a scientific law involving the property in order for it to be real. I don’t think there will be such laws for every potential thing.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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GdB - 12 November 2011 09:14 AM
StephenLawrence - 12 November 2011 07:53 AM

It’s clear as mud at the moment.

Seems so…

Stephen, I really think that it would help if you restrain your use of highly technical and philosophical vocabulary, and try to pin down your thoughts with as concrete as possible examples (like the die). This would be advantageous for you and for me. As said in my posting to Doug above, I am out of academic philosophy quite a while and I do not like to try to understand your postings where you are using such philosophical terminology. Your use of these concepts also feeds the suspicion that you are not clear at all in what you are saying.

I think I am saying in a friendly way the same as Darron is saying about your writing style. I don’t want to spend too much time on thinking what you might have meant, instead of thinking about the clear content of what you are writing. Clear thoughts can be written down clearly, without looking up what you mean on SEP, Wikipedia, etc. I also try this as much as possible.

OK?

I agree that more concrete examples is a good way forward GdB.

Tar.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 November 2011 01:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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dougsmith - 12 November 2011 07:03 PM
Write4U - 12 November 2011 05:10 PM

IMO, yes, in the beginning the potential existed for everything that ever was, is, and will be, i.e. universal potential.
Does that need to mean the “potential image” of the horse existed?  Is that necessary?
IMO, potential is dualistic. Sufficient potential of a kind allows things to happen, but insufficient potential or incompatible potentials also restrict things from happening.

Again, there needs to be a scientific law involving the property in order for it to be real. I don’t think there will be such laws for every potential thing.

I disagree, the potential is inherent in the universal laws that do exist. If a thing is logically impossible, the potential for such a thing will not exist. OTOH, if a thing is logically possible, the potential for it to become real does indeed exist, subject to the laws of probability.  Evolution and emergence of species are clear expressions of potential inherent in the DNA system of living things.
Fractals are another example of potential inherent in a simple set of instructions and the ability for self duplication yielding extraordinary complexity.

[ Edited: 13 November 2011 01:54 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 13 November 2011 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I’m ordering the book today GdB. grin

I also have an idea to think about. It’s replaying the tape. You know, when people say if we were to replay the tape the same thing would happen again in a deterministic universe. I’ve often avoided this in the past because we can’t do it but I do think it is a useful tool to try and get at certain issues.

So, if we replayed the tape would the same thing happen again assuming determinism is true?

If the answer is yes, why is it yes? We are assuming the same intitial conditions but why assume it follow the same rules?

If the rules merely come from what it does there is something wrong with assuming it follows the same rules because all we’re doing is assuming it does the same thing as last time.

So, why assume it will follow the same rules if determinism is true?

Stephen

[ Edited: 13 November 2011 02:01 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 13 November 2011 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Write4U - 13 November 2011 01:42 AM

I disagree, the potential is inherent in the universal laws that do exist. If a thing is logically impossible, the potential for such a thing will not exist. OTOH, if a thing is logically possible, the potential for it to become real does indeed exist, subject to the laws of probability.  Evolution and emergence of species are clear expressions of potential inherent in the DNA system of living things.
Fractals are another example of potential inherent in a simple set of instructions and the ability for self duplication yielding extraordinary complexity.

Exactly, but your example disproves your point. A simple rule can produce great complexity. You don’t need a new law for each complex thing; that’s a misunderstanding of what laws do. Newton’s laws of motion are very simple and yet explain a great deal of complex behavior.

Similarly, biological laws will not include as terms each of the infinite number of potential species. (Any more than Newton’s laws of motion contained as terms each of the infinite number of things that move). They will most likely be laws of change for living things, which apply equally to all species.

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Posted: 13 November 2011 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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dougsmith - 13 November 2011 07:32 AM
Write4U - 13 November 2011 01:42 AM

I disagree, the potential is inherent in the universal laws that do exist. If a thing is logically impossible, the potential for such a thing will not exist. OTOH, if a thing is logically possible, the potential for it to become real does indeed exist, subject to the laws of probability.  Evolution and emergence of species are clear expressions of potential inherent in the DNA system of living things.
Fractals are another example of potential inherent in a simple set of instructions and the ability for self duplication yielding extraordinary complexity.

Exactly, but your example disproves your point. A simple rule can produce great complexity. You don’t need a new law for each complex thing; that’s a misunderstanding of what laws do. Newton’s laws of motion are very simple and yet explain a great deal of complex behavior.

Similarly, biological laws will not include as terms each of the infinite number of potential species. (Any more than Newton’s laws of motion contained as terms each of the infinite number of things that move). They will most likely be laws of change for living things, which apply equally to all species.

I am in total agreement with everything you said. Obviously I did not make myself clear trying to explain it… downer

[ Edited: 13 November 2011 01:15 PM by Write4U ]
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