Against Probability

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Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2010 05:05 pm
Some prominent philosophers, such as Bertrand Russel, have contended that phenomena in the world are actually related to one another in a probabilistic manner; i.e. that probability is not merely an attempt to approach certainty. I cannot imagine how this can be the case; how can probability be the actual motive force, the actual operation in the world? I understand the concept of probability only as an attempt to approach certainty - ex that certainty as the aim, what remains? Nothing I say.

Below is my response.

What is the fundamental operation of the world as experienced? One event occurs, then another event occurs, then yet another event occurs: with each replacing its predecessor. The nature of any given event is to exist; while the nature of the operation of one event succeeding another is to become. Becoming is the movement of one state of being into another state of being. Where in this operation, which underlies all experienced and conceivable states of affairs in the world, is there any probability or randomness? If those words have meaning, what is that meaning?

To imagine a state of being is to imagine some event in isolation, without considering what preceded or what follows; to imagine a state of becoming is to imagine a succession of events, i.e. a succession of states of being. Imagine at least two distinct and mutually exclusive states or successions of being in comparison to one another; to imagine that conception as a whole - comprising the two distinct images - constitutes the idea of possibility. Probability is a systematized, measured version of that sort of conception; i.e. one which not only includes various 'possible' state or successions of being, but attaches various weights to them. The weight granted any given 'possible' state or succession of being is determined solely by reference to past experience and the correlations observed therein. Humean constant conjunction is the mechanism by which specific probabilities are generated.

Does probability/possibility have any other meaning? One might suggest that probability or possibility (i.e. randomness) is the actual state of affairs in the world - as opposed to being/becoming. That is a sentence which one can articulate, much like the sentence 'the fundamental driving force of the world is redness.' I assert that to posit probability or possibility as the actual operation of the world is to posit the aforementioned conceptual act as that operation. Can the act of conceiving of two distinct and mutually exclusive states or successions of being actually be the foundation of the world? How could it, when in fact that conceptual act is clearly dependent upon the preexistence of either states or successions of being that could be conceived of in relation to one another - the question of whether states of successions of being are more primitive we will put aside for now. Therefore, state or successions of being, not probability or possibility must be the fundamental operation apparent in the world. We know only being/becoming; we do not know possibly-being/becoming, except as a derivative of the former.

Probability can be more fundemental to the world than necessity no more than 4 can be more fundmental a number than 1. Four is impossible without one; probability is impossible without necessity.

What do you think about the issue?
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Fri 16 Apr, 2010 12:50 pm
@BrightNoon,
Does anyone agree with Russel that probability is the actual relation that holds between events?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 18 Apr, 2010 05:52 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;152503 wrote:

Probability can be more fundemental to the world than necessity no more than 4 can be more fundmental a number than 1. Four is impossible without one; probability is impossible without necessity.

What do you think about the issue?

I agree with that last statement. Perhaps you know Witt's notion, that the only necessity is logical necessity. And by that I think he means transcendental logic, not our approximations of it (formalized logics). And I agree with you on this in general. Witt also questioned the "laws" of nature. Of course Hume was there before him, as he probably knew. Induction is psychologically justified, but does not seem logically justified. Who says the future must resemble the past? Just because it has? But that's a circular argument..
 
BrightNoon
 
Reply Sun 18 Apr, 2010 11:35 pm
@Reconstructo,
I appreciate Hume and Wittgenstein's arguments against the laws of nature, though I'm much more familiar with Hume's. I tried to formulate my argument without reference to any particular law or the concept of law in general for that very reason. My aim was more to demonstrate that the concept 'possibility' is of the same sort as Hume's 'necessary connexion:' i.e. it exists only as the very concept that it is and does not refer to anything else in the phenomenal world. It is has meaning only if understood as an approximation of necessity. And that, being composite and not primitive, therefore, it cannot actually be the basis of action in the phenomenal world. That from which it is derived, in terms of which it has meaning, is the basis: necessity.
 
Emil
 
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 12:03 am
@BrightNoon,
Russell, two L's.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 12:15 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;153842 wrote:
I appreciate Hume and Wittgenstein's arguments against the laws of nature, though I'm much more familiar with Hume's. I tried to formulate my argument without reference to any particular law or the concept of law in general for that very reason. My aim was more to demonstrate that the concept 'possibility' is of the same sort as Hume's 'necessary connexion:' i.e. it exists only as the very concept that it is and does not refer to anything else in the phenomenal world. It is has meaning only if understood as an approximation of necessity. And that, being composite and not primitive, therefore, it cannot actually be the basis of action in the phenomenal world. That from which it is derived, in terms of which it has meaning, is the basis: necessity.


I think I see what you mean. You are talking about logical implications. Right? What is the probability of rolling a seven on two six sided dice. An answer to this is easily provided (though I haven't calculated it) but how does it apply to the individual case? Can it apply? How is it connected to those dice? Interesting topic.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 02:53 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;152884 wrote:
Does anyone agree with Russel that probability is the actual relation that holds between events?
I dont know what you mean by "the actual relation", but probabilities are what scientists deal with. So, whether Russell likes it or not, probability is the empirical relation.
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Mon 19 Apr, 2010 03:19 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;152503 wrote:
Some prominent philosophers, such as Bertrand Russel, have contended that phenomena in the world are actually related to one another in a probabilistic manner; i.e. that probability is not merely an attempt to approach certainty. I cannot imagine how this can be the case; how can probability be the actual motive force, the actual operation in the world? I understand the concept of probability only as an attempt to approach certainty - ex that certainty as the aim, what remains? Nothing I say.


Give me one example for what you mean by "concept of probability only as an attempt to approach certainty".

---------- Post added 04-19-2010 at 04:22 AM ----------

ughaibu;153888 wrote:
I dont know what you mean by "the actual relation", but probabilities are what scientists deal with. So, whether Russell likes it or not, probability is the empirical relation.


Not entirely true.

Quote:
Bayesian probability interprets the concept of probability as "a measure of a state of knowledge",[1] in contrast to interpreting it as a frequency or a physical property of a system.


Bayesian probability - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

---------- Post added 04-19-2010 at 04:28 AM ----------

BrightNoon;153842 wrote:
My aim was more to demonstrate that the concept 'possibility' is of the same sort as Hume's 'necessary connexion:' i.e. it exists only as the very concept that it is and does not refer to anything else in the phenomenal world.


What Hume did was to question "how we come to know causal relations". Hume did not deny that there is really no real causal relations in the world.
The causal relation is of course, not logical.
 
 

 
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