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The Fine-Tuned Universe and the Multiverse ?
Posted: 08 April 2010 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 361 ]
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GdB - 08 April 2010 01:13 AM
StephenLawrence - 08 April 2010 12:50 AM

if this is true then there are no true counterfactuals

Can you explain what you mean with ‘real counterfactuals’?

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

The basic idea of counterfactual theories of causation is that the meaning of causal claims can be explained in terms of counterfactual conditionals of the form “If A had not occurred, C would not have occurred”.

(If some celestial body had not crashed into the young earth, it would have had no moon.)

How can a conditional be real? Conditionals are our way of understanding what happens ‘out there’.

GdB

I said true not real.

I think if counterfactuals are in our minds then causation or dependant origination is also in our minds.

Counterfactuals are intrinsically part of causal claims, not just how we understand the world. edit: “The basic idea” from your quote.

To say a celestial body hitting the earth caused the earth to have a moon, is at least in part to say “If some celestial body had not crashed into the young earth, it would have had no moon”

Stephen

[ Edited: 08 April 2010 01:44 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 08 April 2010 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 362 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 April 2010 01:18 AM

I said true not real.

I think if counterfactuals are in our minds then causation or dependant origination is also in our minds.

Sorry for the misreading.

But still: isn’t truth the correspondence between our claims and reality? And who does the ‘claiming’? Who is ‘explaining’? ‘If…then…’ statements are representations in our minds of causation (i.e. as long as these statements are related to physical processes).

GdB

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Posted: 08 April 2010 02:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 363 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 April 2010 01:10 AM

We are not customarily interested in different possibilities that could happen in the circumstances i.e given all the other variables. .....

We do this all the time.  There is fiction on “alternate histories”.  People think about how life would have been different if they had married that other person. 

What are “regrets”—we realize that if we had said something different, then things would be different.

http://www.amazon.com/Regret-Persistence-Possible-Janet-Landman/dp/0195071786

[“Regret: The Persistence of the Possible” by Janet Landman ]

a27017c0f890661597758445477434d414f4541.jpg

Or the psychology of regret
http://regret.behaviouralfinance.net/

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a713751135&db=all

Regret and disappointment have in common the fact that they are experienced when the outcome of a decision is unfavourable: They both concern ‘‘what might have been’‘, had things been different.

[ Edited: 08 April 2010 02:57 AM by Jackson ]
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Posted: 08 April 2010 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 364 ]
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delete: sorry I’ll post again

[ Edited: 08 April 2010 02:45 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 08 April 2010 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 365 ]
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GdB - 08 April 2010 02:07 AM
StephenLawrence - 08 April 2010 01:18 AM

I said true not real.

I think if counterfactuals are in our minds then causation or dependant origination is also in our minds.

Sorry for the misreading.

No problem GdB, just think if I thought you could do otherwise grin

I’ll come back on the “but still” (I hope)

All the best,

Stephen

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Posted: 08 April 2010 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 366 ]
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Jackson - 08 April 2010 02:53 AM
StephenLawrence - 08 April 2010 01:10 AM

We are not customarily interested in different possibilities that could happen in the circumstances i.e given all the other variables. .....

We do this all the time.  There is fiction on “alternate histories”.  People think about how life would have been different if they had married that other person. 

What are “regrets”—we realize that if we had said something different, then things would be different.

http://www.amazon.com/Regret-Persistence-Possible-Janet-Landman/dp/0195071786

[“Regret: The Persistence of the Possible” by Janet Landman ]

a27017c0f890661597758445477434d414f4541.jpg

Or the psychology of regret
http://regret.behaviouralfinance.net/

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a713751135&db=all

Regret and disappointment have in common the fact that they are experienced when the outcome of a decision is unfavourable: They both concern ‘‘what might have been’‘, had things been different.

edit: I’ll try again.

Jackson,

The example you are giving is an example of type 2 possibility that I mentioned.

What it is not is an example of thinking about an event that could have been different given the variables.

I think it’s best to leave human choice making out of it so we don’t get into free will and also because there is nothing metaphysically different about possibilities for humans and say trees and it’s less confusing to think about trees.

So let’s say you are thinking about what would have happened if a tree had not been up rooted by the wind and blocked the road.

Would you say you are thinking about what would happen if this had happened given the variables…...the strength of the wind the type of soil, how far the roots were in etc, or do you think you would be thinking about a different situation, perhaps if the roots were deeper, or if the wind wasn’t quite so strong? How do you think the tree could have not fallen over?

Also when we are observing the world I think we always believe we are observing the equivelent of what would happen. So say you set up an experiment to see what would happen holding a certain set of variables fixed and you get X happening everytime, you’d think X is the thing that would happen. Now say you set the experiment up again and X doesn’t happen. Would you think you’ve just seen an example of what would happen not happening? I’m sure you wouldn’t, you would check the experiment, check if the vaiables were held fixed properly and even if you couldn’t find the reason for the different result you would still confidently think there must be one, you just don’t know what it is.

We just don’t think in terms of what would happen ever not happening, in circumstances in which it would. This is either because it’s impossible, or so unlikely that it doesn’t need to concern us for usual practical purposes.


Stephen

[ Edited: 09 April 2010 12:11 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 09 April 2010 11:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 367 ]
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GdB - 08 April 2010 02:07 AM


But still: isn’t truth the correspondence between our claims and reality?

That’s the theory I’m working with.

So there is no correspondence between our claims about contrary to fact possibilities and reality unless they are mind independent.

And who does the ‘claiming’? Who is ‘explaining’?

We explain but our explanations are true if based on reasons why independent of our minds.

‘If…then…’ statements are representations in our minds of causation (i.e. as long as these statements are related to physical processes).


Yes and it follows that if these are only in our minds then causation is also only in our mind.

I don’t think you can claim causes are objectively out there independent of mind and contray to fact possibilities are not, without entailing a contradiction. Do you?

Stephen

[ Edited: 10 April 2010 12:10 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 10 April 2010 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 368 ]
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StephenLawrence - 08 April 2010 03:41 PM

...
Jackson,

The example you are giving is an example of type 2 possibility that I mentioned.

What it is not is an example of thinking about an event that could have been different given the variables.

I think it’s best to leave human choice making out of it so we don’t get into free will and also because there is nothing metaphysically different about possibilities for humans and say trees and it’s less confusing to think about trees.

So let’s say you are thinking about what would have happened if a tree had not been up rooted by the wind and blocked the road.

Would you say you are thinking about what would happen if this had happened given the variables…...the strength of the wind the type of soil, how far the roots were in etc, or do you think you would be thinking about a different situation, perhaps if the roots were deeper, or if the wind wasn’t quite so strong? How do you think the tree could have not fallen over?
....

Stephen I have lost track of what your ‘problem’ is—I entered this on the topic of “in what sense is it possible that the Earth could be here today without a moon”.
I think within the assumptions and premises you are using, which I don’t agree with, that you are able to construct an internally consistent view which is not realistic.

In this example—- if the storm had missed the area the tree would not have fallen down at that exact time.  The exact trajectory of the storm depends on a lot of things.  It might have also been that they were planning to cut down the tree anyway and they just hadn’t gotten to it, because of budget problems.  I really don’t see what your problem is but it seems to be a substitution of metaphysics for reality-based-thinking.

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Posted: 10 April 2010 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 369 ]
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Jackson - 10 April 2010 04:47 AM

Stephen I have lost track of what your ‘problem’ is—I entered this on the topic of “in what sense is it possible that the Earth could be here today without a moon”.

We were talking about how you know it could.

you came up with indeterminism as your answer, so that’s settled.

We are now talking about in what sense it could and you’ve again answered, thank you.

In this example—- if the storm had missed the area the tree would not have fallen down at that exact time.  The exact trajectory of the storm depends on a lot of things.  It might have also been that they were planning to cut down the tree anyway and they just hadn’t gotten to it, because of budget problems.  I really don’t see what your problem is but it seems to be a substitution of metaphysics for reality-based-thinking.

Yes,  now what I was saying was this is just the same sort of possibility I believe in too.

The point is this does not directly have anything to do with indeterminism.

Note when you think “had the tree not fallen down” you are not thinking about in the circumstances, or put another way, given the variables and so you are not thinking in terms of indeterminsm. I know this because you go on to say “if the storm had missed the tree”

You are thinking about slightly altered circumstances, not the possibility of the tree not falling over given the variables.

This is very important.

Stephen

[ Edited: 10 April 2010 12:05 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 10 April 2010 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 370 ]
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StephenLawrence - 10 April 2010 11:57 AM

....
You are thinking about slightly altered circumstances, not the possibility of the tree not falling over given the variables.

This is very important.

Stephen

Stephen, even if one has deterministic ‘dynamics’, if the system is nonlinear one can have ‘dynamical chaos’ where the prediction of the state some time in the future depends very sensitively on the initial conditions. i.e. the “butterfly effect” or the chaos described by Gleick in his book Chaos.  I think it has some applicability to your question here because the further one goes into the future the more that the exact conditions depend very sensitively on the initial conditions a day ago / a year ago / a decade ago / a century ago…  If one calculates how exactly sensitive some outcome is to initial conditions, there will be a point back in time where it is “inderminate” because our physical universe doesn’t go down to that tiny of a scale.

For example, something related to “light” can’t really be meaningful if one talks about a millionth of the wavelength of light, or a small fraction of the distance across an atom.  The “initial conditions” cannot even in principle be known that exactly so part of the question becomes moot.

So the exact second that a tree blows down in storm is determined by a lot of things.

I apologize if this is not really directed at the question you are trying to discuss.

If you are asking whether if everything else is the same, what can change—I’m saying that it can change at the ultra-nanoscale, and that things which are sensitive to initial conditions will be affected first, and other things would be affected much later. Again I apologize if this is not aligned with your question….

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Posted: 10 April 2010 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 371 ]
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Jackson - 10 April 2010 01:26 PM

Stephen, even if one has deterministic ‘dynamics’, if the system is nonlinear one can have ‘dynamical chaos’ where the prediction of the state some time in the future depends very sensitively on the initial conditions. i.e. the “butterfly effect” or the chaos described by Gleick in his book Chaos.  I think it has some applicability to your question here because the further one goes into the future the more that the exact conditions depend very sensitively on the initial conditions a day ago / a year ago / a decade ago / a century ago…  If one calculates how exactly sensitive some outcome is to initial conditions, there will be a point back in time where it is “inderminate” because our physical universe doesn’t go down to that tiny of a scale.

For example, something related to “light” can’t really be meaningful if one talks about a millionth of the wavelength of light, or a small fraction of the distance across an atom.  The “initial conditions” cannot even in principle be known that exactly so part of the question becomes moot.

So the exact second that a tree blows down in storm is determined by a lot of things.

I apologize if this is not really directed at the question you are trying to discuss.

If you are asking whether if everything else is the same, what can change—I’m saying that it can change at the ultra-nanoscale, and that things which are sensitive to initial conditions will be affected first, and other things would be affected much later. Again I apologize if this is not aligned with your question….

I’m not really asking anything now Jackson.

I was asking how you know the earth could have no moon. I disagreed that it was reasonable to suppose that because other planets in similar circumstances have no moon, that it follows that this planet in these circumstances could have no moon. That was your first argument, the one that I got the Jello comment from Darron and the potatoe head coment from you, for disagreeing with.

You then came up with evidence for indeterminism as an argument instead, which I accepted.

Following that I disagreed with the idea that you had, that I view possibilities differently than you. I’ve demonstrated that when you think about alternative possibilities you are thinking aboiut alternative circumstances. So you are not generally thinking about indeterministic type possibilities any more than I am.

Your example was about regret. You claimed this was an example of thinking about indeterministic type possibilities. I used the tree example to show it wasn’t.

That’s all.

Stephen

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Posted: 11 April 2010 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 372 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 April 2010 11:27 PM

Yes and it follows that if these are only in our minds then causation is also only in our mind.

I don’t think you can claim causes are objectively out there independent of mind and contray to fact possibilities are not, without entailing a contradiction. Do you?

I have no idea how a possibility can be out here. ‘Contrary to fact’ means they are not fact, is it? How can something that is not the case be the case, except in our mind, as expectation, regret, etc?

GdB

[ Edited: 11 April 2010 06:32 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 11 April 2010 04:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 373 ]
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StephenLawrence - 10 April 2010 02:35 PM

....

Your example was about regret. You claimed this was an example of thinking about indeterministic type possibilities. I used the tree example to show it wasn’t.

That’s all.

Stephen

I used the reget example to show how other people use the word “possibility” (i.e. book title).

The tree example shows your perspective—it doesn’t “show” anything unless someone else finds it convincing.

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Posted: 11 April 2010 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 374 ]
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GdB - 11 April 2010 03:51 AM
StephenLawrence - 09 April 2010 11:27 PM

Yes and it follows that if these are only in our minds then causation is also only in our mind.

I don’t think you can claim causes are objectively out there independent of mind and contray to fact possibilities are not, without entailing a contradiction. Do you?

I have no idea how a possibility can be out here. ‘Contrary to fact’ means they are not fact, is it? How can something that is not the case be the case, except in our mind, as expectation, regret, etc?

GdB

It’s puzzling GdB. I think this can be answered by saying it can be an objective fact that things could happen that in fact don’t.

On the other hand the two things that don’t seem to make sense if we take your view are:

1) Talking about what would have happened if, when we know the if didn’t happen. Your attempt at solving the problem is to say knowledge is not perfect but I’m sure that doesn’t work, as we do assume we know what happened, when we do this.

2) It would seem that if contray to fact possibilities are mind/knowledge dependent then it follows that so are causes.

That’s why I’m interested, how to take a satisfactory position that contains no contradictions.

You’ve responded to 1) though I don’t think you’re right but what about 2) Do you believe in mind independent causes?

Stephen

[ Edited: 11 April 2010 10:45 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 11 April 2010 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 375 ]
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Jackson - 11 April 2010 04:43 AM
StephenLawrence - 10 April 2010 02:35 PM

....

Your example was about regret. You claimed this was an example of thinking about indeterministic type possibilities. I used the tree example to show it wasn’t.

That’s all.

Stephen

I used the reget example to show how other people use the word “possibility” (i.e. book title).

The tree example shows your perspective—it doesn’t “show” anything unless someone else finds it convincing.

The tree example is a case of how people use the word possibility and we can clearly see that widening the circumstances to include more than the variables that there were is what we are doing, so that is not (edit: just) my perspective when concerned with trees. You showed this by saying how the tree could have not fallen over.

I used the tree example because it’s less confusing than thinking about regretting not making different choices. But I am sure it’s the same Jackson. If I asked you how you could have made a different choice the answer might be if you’d been offered £100 to do it, or if you’d been less angry, or whatever. edit: at the very least the way would have to be if you had been motivated to take another course of action.

Same use of the word possibility.

Stephen

[ Edited: 12 April 2010 12:30 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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