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Posted: 02 October 2009 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 11:23 AM
Kaizen - 02 October 2009 10:20 AM

Is it impossible that the sun may explode sometime today? On the epistemological level, this is circular reasoning. And whether you care or not doesn’t change the argument. Clearly I disagree with Hume’s conclusions, so I wouldn’t make that kind of a bet with you. But I don’t push it aside on your reasoning. You seem to be taking the Humean approach, which is “Well, I can’t do anything about reasoning this way, so it’s not a problem.” You see how that’s a non-solution?

No, the sun will not explode someday, much less sometime today. That is ridiculous. My conclusions are not based on circular reasoning or any kind of philosophical sophistry, but on known physics. We can predict the future. Our sun will swell to a red giant and incinerate the earth in a few billion years. Betelguese will go supernova in the relatively near future. The Orion Nebula will be prominent in the North American skies this winter. The sun will rise tomorrow. It is fairly simple, and has nothing to do with philosophy.

Hume says we can’t predict what color the next crow will be just because all the crows that we’ve seen have been black. Your response is, “So what? All of the crows I’ve seen were black so the next one will be. End of argument.”

I don’t know about the specifics in the differences between Newtonian physics and Einstein’s Relativity, but I do know that Einstein’s theory accounts for something that Newtonian physics would be wrong about. So in this sense, you would’ve owed someone a shot of tequila had you bet about that.

I specifically excluded crows from my conclusions, and stuck with stuff that matters, not meaningless arguments only philosophers find interesting. If I were betting a shot of tequila regarding a question of Relativity vs. Newtonian physics I would bet on the side of Relativity when necessary and Newtonian physics at all other times, because Newtonian physics still works and the math is easier.

From your original essay:

So it appears that we have no rationale for making claims of the future at all. There would be no logical contradiction if reality as we know it spontaneously turned chaotic at any moment. Any use of inductive inference seems to automatically assume a “Uniformity of Nature”; the justification of which has yet to reach a consensus within the philosophical community.

I don’t know if these are Hume’s words or yours, but either way I could not disagree more strongly. There is no logical reason to think physical laws that have worked for 13.7 billion years can suddenly, without warning, turn from orderly to chaotic. This isn’t philosophy, it is physics.

No time to respond in length right now, but physics is rooted in philosophy. Without a philosophy of science, science is merely taxonomy without theory.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Without a philosophy of science, science is merely taxonomy without theory.

What philosophy of science postulates the sun could blow up this afternoon or not rise tomorrow? I will agree that we can never truly understand the universe, all we can do is reach very close approximations of how things work, but we do know the sun will rise tomorrow, and our approximations are very, very close to reality. We can test them, and they work. We send probes to other planets, measure the scale of the universe, and build bridges. Hume obviously understood none of this. I can forgive him for that, but then he stepped outside his area of expertise and proposed we can never know why bodies in motion remain in motion.

Without mathematics and science philosophy is merely an intellectual wasteland; intelligent people discussing things they do not understand, reaching conclusions based on their ignorance. To quote the great philosopher Foghorn Leghorn, “It’s mathematics son. You can argue with me but you can’t argue with figures.”

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Posted: 02 October 2009 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 11:23 AM

No, the sun will not explode someday, much less sometime today. That is ridiculous. My conclusions are not based on circular reasoning or any kind of philosophical sophistry, but on known physics. We can predict the future. Our sun will swell to a red giant and incinerate the earth in a few billion years. Betelguese will go supernova in the relatively near future. The Orion Nebula will be prominent in the North American skies this winter. The sun will rise tomorrow. It is fairly simple, and has nothing to do with philosophy.

The question is if it was impossible. Physics is a if->then dealio. You never observe causation. You observe a number of events which can be categorized in retrospect under the label of physics. From there physics makes the if->then proposition. IF things remain this way, THEN the sun will turn red, etc. There is a reason science doesn’t speak in absolutes.

I specifically excluded crows from my conclusions, and stuck with stuff that matters, not meaningless arguments only philosophers find interesting. If I were betting a shot of tequila regarding a question of Relativity vs. Newtonian physics I would bet on the side of Relativity when necessary and Newtonian physics at all other times, because Newtonian physics still works and the math is easier.

See my paragraph above. The induction problem does apply to physics as well. Science has basically said “this is ‘working’, so let’s keep doing it.” but when analyzed in detail, it does seem to fall under the circular argument.

You’re saying that physics has always worked in the past, therefore is must work in the future. That doesn’t follow and it leaves no room for modification or outright change in science. My Newton/Einstein example was pointing out that prior to Einstein, had you said what you said, you would leave no room for Einstein.

I don’t know if these are Hume’s words or yours, but either way I could not disagree more strongly. There is no logical reason to think physical laws that have worked for 13.7 billion years can suddenly, without warning, turn from orderly to chaotic. This isn’t philosophy, it is physics.

Again, physics is based in philosophy. To say that “this has worked in the past, therefore it must work in the future” falls under the realm of philosophy. Isn’t that quote what you’re ultimately saying?

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Posted: 02 October 2009 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 11:56 AM

Without a philosophy of science, science is merely taxonomy without theory.

What philosophy of science postulates the sun could blow up this afternoon or not rise tomorrow? I will agree that we can never truly understand the universe, all we can do is reach very close approximations of how things work, but we do know the sun will rise tomorrow, and our approximations are very, very close to reality. We can test them, and they work. We send probes to other planets, measure the scale of the universe, and build bridges. Hume obviously understood none of this. I can forgive him for that, but then he stepped outside his area of expertise and proposed we can never know why bodies in motion remain in motion.

Without mathematics and science philosophy is merely an intellectual wasteland; intelligent people discussing things they do not understand, reaching conclusions based on their ignorance. To quote the great philosopher Foghorn Leghorn, “It’s mathematics son. You can argue with me but you can’t argue with figures.”

Certainly math and science are important for human understanding and there comes a point where the 3 seems to have a reciprocal relationship. But math and science do not exist without there first being a philosophy.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Again, physics is based in philosophy. To say that “this has worked in the past, therefore it must work in the future” falls under the realm of philosophy. Isn’t that quote what you’re ultimately saying?

OK, if you want to infer I am saying this worked in the past therefore it must work in the future, fine. I won’t argue because it works. As I stated several posts back, I can use a planetarium program to plan my observing sessions with full confidence that, weather permitting, I can find astronomical objects where I expect to find them. David Hume contributed nothing to this. His very words stated we could not do this, yet people do it all the time. We can demonstrate that our predictions are accurate. Arguing that we can never truly know the predictions are accurate on something that is well established science is a waste of time.

Certainly math and science are important for human understanding and there comes a point where the 3 seems to have a reciprocal relationship. But math and science do not exist without there first being a philosophy.

Agreed. But our knowledge has long since passed the point where people untrained in mathematics and science can make significant contributions. Hume was wrong about much of what he believed. His writings have historical value, but are no more significant to today’s world than the theory of ether to today’s physics.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 12:23 PM

OK, if you want to infer I am saying this worked in the past therefore it must work in the future, fine. I won’t argue because it works. As I stated several posts back, I can use a planetarium program to plan my observing sessions with full confidence that, weather permitting, I can find astronomical objects where I expect to find them. David Hume contributed nothing to this. His very words stated we could not do this, yet people do it all the time. We can demonstrate that our predictions are accurate. Arguing that we can never truly know the predictions are accurate on something that is well established science is a waste of time.

As Doug has said, if you have an interest in epistemology, this is something that must be confronted. Clearly for many scientists today, the “problem” is irrelevant. My hope is that I can add some value on the epistemological side.

Agreed. But our knowledge has long since passed the point where people untrained in mathematics and science can make significant contributions. Hume was wrong about much of what he believed. His writings have historical value, but are no more significant to today’s world than the theory of ether to today’s physics.

In general, I agree. If we want to ignore the epistemology behind it and start from some basic assumptions, then surely science can care less about Hume. And Hume surely was wrong. I consider his works to be akin to some guy tapping you on the shoulder and trying to convince you of solipsism.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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In general, I agree. If we want to ignore the epistemology behind it and start from some basic assumptions, then surely science can care less about Hume. And Hume surely was wrong. I consider his works to be akin to some guy tapping you on the shoulder and trying to convince you of solipsism.

grin
Where do you want to meet for some tequila? I think we’d have a good time discussing this face to face. Now I hope this thread morphs into people discussing your essay. At least I drew in some people and got a discussion started for you. Now I really need to go do some homework. This has been fun, but it won’t get me through school.

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Posted: 02 October 2009 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 01:08 PM

grin
Where do you want to meet for some tequila? I think we’d have a good time discussing this face to face. Now I hope this thread morphs into people discussing your essay. At least I drew in some people and got a discussion started for you. Now I really need to go do some homework. This has been fun, but it won’t get me through school.

I think so too. This was certainly fun. Only I haven’t been able to keep tequila down since I drank half a bottle of a fifth when I was 15. I’m more of a cognac guy.

And thanks for posting in this. I was getting ready to delete the essay. Now, time to prepare for the tearing of a new one…

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Posted: 02 October 2009 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Cognac for you, tequila for me. I’ll buy the first round.

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“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
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Posted: 02 October 2009 02:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Whisky please. Smoky and peaty. And pure, warmed by a fine fire. And a cigar.

GdB

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“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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Posted: 02 October 2009 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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GdB - 02 October 2009 02:39 PM

Whisky please. Smoky and peaty. And pure, warmed by a fine fire. And a cigar.

GdB

Dalmore and a Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 good enough for ya?

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Posted: 02 October 2009 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I’ll take tequila, grappa or a good vintage port, please ...

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Posted: 02 October 2009 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 02:50 PM

Dalmore and a Rocky Patel Vintage 1992 good enough for ya?

Oops! Don’t know them. Until now my favourites (in my financial range) were Lagavullin, Laphroig and Talisker. But one should be open minded! I’m sorry we’re about 10,000 km apart from each other…

GdB

PS Hume was a Scott, wasn’t he? Lucky guy he must have been….
PPS Next step for me must be ‘Swisskey’. If you understand what I mean…

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Posted: 05 October 2009 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Hi fotobits,

fotobits - 02 October 2009 11:56 AM

Without a philosophy of science, science is merely taxonomy without theory.

What philosophy of science postulates the sun could blow up this afternoon or not rise tomorrow? .

The philosophy science is based on is that there are numerous things that could happen, the sun not rising tomorrow being one of them. When science answers a question, it answers the question why does one thing happen rather than another of the things that could happen.

The idea is we know the sun will rise tomorrow but we also know that it might not 1)because we might not be in circumstances in which it will rise tomorrow (due to knowledge being uncertain) and 2) because it could disappear at random regardless of the circumstances (or so I’m led to believe)

Stephen

[ Edited: 05 October 2009 12:01 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 05 October 2009 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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fotobits - 02 October 2009 11:23 AM

I don’t know if these are Hume’s words or yours, but either way I could not disagree more strongly. There is no logical reason to think physical laws that have worked for 13.7 billion years can suddenly, without warning, turn from orderly to chaotic. This isn’t philosophy, it is physics.

Oh, one more question, sorry to bombard you, this is another subject which baffles me. Imagine the universe was 6,000 years old (as some do grin ) would we be less certain that physical laws are immutable? In other words what is the connection between length of time and our certainty?

Drat edited rather than started new post.

My other questions were:

What reason is there to believe the laws of physics couldn’t change tomorrow?

Couldn’t it be the case that they are and have been fluctuating but so slightly that we haven’t noticed?

Why does the universe act in accordance with the laws of physics?

Stephen

Stephen

[ Edited: 05 October 2009 12:32 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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