Defense of Freewill Against Determinism

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Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 14 Jul, 2010 04:18 pm
@fast,
fast wrote:
There was a poster a while back (on a different forum) demanding that other certain posters read it.

I believe that poster was Night Ripper, and the forum was the old philosophy forum.
 
fast
 
Reply Wed 14 Jul, 2010 08:51 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

fast wrote:
There was a poster a while back (on a different forum) demanding that other certain posters read it.

I believe that poster was Night Ripper, and the forum was the old philosophy forum.
http://www.mamarocks.com/my_forgetter.htm
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Wed 14 Jul, 2010 09:09 pm
@fast,
fast wrote:
The first (Laws of Nature) [notice the capital letters] will refer to the inventions that often come subsequent to the discoveries. They usually take the form of either formulas and/or sets of statements.
As Night Ripper says, these are laws of science, not laws of nature.
fast wrote:
The second (laws of nature) [notice the lower case letters] will refer to the discoveries or regularities found in nature that bring rise to subsequent inventions.
And these aren't any kind of laws, they're observations. Laws of nature are mooted metaphysical entities, they can not be observed.
fast wrote:
The point of course is that Kennethamy brings up laws of nature while Ughaibu speaks instead of Laws of Nature.
You seem to have this exactly reversed. Kennethamy introduced the term "causal laws" and when asked to define these, he wrote:
kennethamy wrote:
ughaibu wrote:
What is a "causal law"?
It is a universal statement of a regularity between two kinds of things, but which says that the regularity is not accidental, but that there is an explanation of the regularity.
fast wrote:
Why else would he say, “As I said, determinism is a thesis about [L]aws of [N]ature. There's no mention of "statements" or explanations, is there?”
How can you not understand this? I really dont get it.
Kennethamy, for several years, was unable to answer the question of what a cause is, in his claim that determinism is the view that all events have causes. You can verify this by searching in the Free Will Forum at Infidels. Since moving to Philforums, he has defined causes as Hempelian explanations, and a Hempelian explanation is a deduction from one or more laws of science. As this has been his recent position and as he specifically mentions "statement" and "explanation", it seems quite clear that what he means by a "causal law" is a law of science as used in Hempelian explanations. If he doesn't mean this, then he appears to have expressed himself in terms too ambiguous for a definition.
Next; in the piece he quoted, ostensibly to provide authority for his claim that determinism is a thesis about cause, there is no mention of cause, laws of science or Hempelian explanations. In fact, the piece quoted specifies laws of nature. In short, "why else" would I have written what I did, other than to point out to Kennethamy that his authority does not agree with him, it agrees with me?

 
fast
 
Reply Wed 14 Jul, 2010 09:44 pm
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:
How can you not understand this? I really dont get it.
Lack of formal training no doubt. I'll go over it again later.
 
ACB
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 08:38 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:
kennethamy wrote:
ughaibu wrote:
What is a "causal law"?
It is a universal statement of a regularity between two kinds of things, but which says that the regularity is not accidental, but that there is an explanation of the regularity.

This seems to me the crucial point. Are the regularities in the universe accidental? Is there an explanation for them? Are the only two possibilities (a) that all regularities occur purely by chance, or (b) that they are due to completely untestable, metaphysical, quasi-theological "laws of nature"?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 08:59 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu wrote:

fast wrote:
The first (Laws of Nature) [notice the capital letters] will refer to the inventions that often come subsequent to the discoveries. They usually take the form of either formulas and/or sets of statements.
As Night Ripper says, these are laws of science, not laws of nature.
fast wrote:
The second (laws of nature) [notice the lower case letters] will refer to the discoveries or regularities found in nature that bring rise to subsequent inventions.
And these aren't any kind of laws, they're observations. Laws of nature are mooted metaphysical entities, they can not be observed.
fast wrote:
The point of course is that Kennethamy brings up laws of nature while Ughaibu speaks instead of Laws of Nature.
You seem to have this exactly reversed. Kennethamy introduced the term "causal laws" and when asked to define these, he wrote:
kennethamy wrote:
ughaibu wrote:
What is a "causal law"?
It is a universal statement of a regularity between two kinds of things, but which says that the regularity is not accidental, but that there is an explanation of the regularity.
fast wrote:
Why else would he say, “As I said, determinism is a thesis about [L]aws of [N]ature. There's no mention of "statements" or explanations, is there?”
How can you not understand this? I really dont get it.
Kennethamy, for several years, was unable to answer the question of what a cause is, in his claim that determinism is the view that all events have causes. You can verify this by searching in the Free Will Forum at Infidels. Since moving to Philforums, he has defined causes as Hempelian explanations, and a Hempelian explanation is a deduction from one or more laws of science. As this has been his recent position and as he specifically mentions "statement" and "explanation", it seems quite clear that what he means by a "causal law" is a law of science as used in Hempelian explanations. If he doesn't mean this, then he appears to have expressed himself in terms too ambiguous for a definition.
Next; in the piece he quoted, ostensibly to provide authority for his claim that determinism is a thesis about cause, there is no mention of cause, laws of science or Hempelian explanations. In fact, the piece quoted specifies laws of nature. In short, "why else" would I have written what I did, other than to point out to Kennethamy that his authority does not agree with him, it agrees with me?




Whatever the analysis of causal explanation may be, Hempellian or not, has nothing to do with whether "determinism" is defined in terms of causal explanation. What the analysis of causal explanation is, is a separate matter. We may not agree on the analysis of (say) what it means to "exist". But how would that imply that we do not agree on whether or not mermaids exist. I suppose that whatever you mean by "exist" you agree that there is no Spaghetti Monster.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 09:40 am
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
This seems to me the crucial point. Are the regularities in the universe accidental? Is there an explanation for them? Are the only two possibilities (a) that all regularities occur purely by chance, or (b) that they are due to completely untestable, metaphysical, quasi-theological "laws of nature"?
I think it depends on what's meant by an explanation. It seems to me that explaining is an activity, something done by explainers, so we're stuck with human explanations. If so, and explanations have a scientific basis, within the explanatory universe of science, the universe acknowledged by science is almost completely unexplainable, as far as explanations might be relevant to the question of determinism. But, I think that's to be expected, it would strike me as very strange if I happened to be a member of a species capable of explaining the world within which it found itself.
I suspect that there is baggage imported from the religious culture in which western science developed. Particularly, the notions of reductionism and scientific truth. Accordingly, the statements of the most reductive sciences are considered, by a vocal subset of the posting population, to constitute a species of "ultimate truth". But, as the philosophy of biology is the most rapidly growing field, I expect this tendency will eventually reduce.
 
fast
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 10:08 am
From the link:

Within metaphysics, there are two competing theories of Laws of Nature. On one account, the Regularity Theory, Laws of Nature are statements of the uniformities or regularities in the world; they are mere descriptions of the way the world is.

I can’t wrap my head around why the terms, “statements” and “descriptions” are being used. In my own words, and without doing any research on the matter, the very way in which people use that term seems to me that they are referring to the physical forces behind the happenings in nature that we seek to discover and understand.

Why should we be blind to the difference between 1) the forces behind the happenings in nature and 2) our statements we devise that describe the former? I will rewrite what I believe the author would have said with that distinction in mind: On one account, the Regularity Theory, Laws of Nature are the uniformities or regularities in the world; they are [why] the world is the way it is.

If there were no decision-making entities in our world, then events in our world would still occur, but each event that did occur would not occur by accident. They would occur because there are what we call laws of nature. By “laws of nature,” I do not mean invented (manmade) statements but rather the forces behing the happenings in nature that we seek to discover and understand.

For example, if there were no decision-making entities in our world, then winds would still blow and trees would still fall. These events will happen. But, must they?

Yes and no. It depends on whether we ride the logic train or the bus of physics. People on the logic train says that the tree won’t fall if the winds don’t blow very hard, and ya know what; they’re right, so it’s not the case that what happens must happen, logically speaking. However, people riding the bus still say that what happens in nature must happen in nature because of the forces behind the physical processes (or the happenings) in nature. So, who is right? They both are; they just need to quit eqivocating on the word, “must.”

Again, let us not be blind to the difference between 1) the happenings in nature (that are discovered) and 2) statements ABOUT the happening in nature (that are invented). I said “happenings,” but really what I’m eluding to are the natural forces behind those happenings (or regularities)… the physical causal necessities of the world. And it is here I blend the two seemingly competing theories.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 02:30 pm
@ACB,
What does it mean to say that the regularities in the universe are accidental? What is this in contrast to? Suppose we said the regularities in the universe were not accidental - what would this mean?
 
Night Ripper
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 03:01 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

What does it mean to say that the regularities in the universe are accidental? What is this in contrast to? Suppose we said the regularities in the universe were not accidental - what would this mean?


I would take it to mean 1 of 2 things.

(1) There could be no other possible universe where the regularities didn't occur.

or

(2) They were caused intentionally by some agent.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 03:47 pm
@Night Ripper,
fast wrote:
Why should we be blind to the difference between 1) the forces behind the happenings in nature and 2) our statements we devise that describe the former?

You keep repeating yourself. Who here do you think is blind to this? Who do you think is confusing statements with what statements express, describe, or refer to?

Night Ripper wrote:
I would take it to mean 1 of 2 things.

(1) There could be no other possible universe where the regularities didn't occur.

or

(2) They were caused intentionally by some agent.

Well, let's hope he wasn't referring to (2). I'm not one for supernatural cop-outs. As for (1), it seems untestable.

ACB, you then go on to say:

ACB wrote:
Are the only two possibilities (a) that all regularities occur purely by chance, or (b) that they are due to completely untestable, metaphysical, quasi-theological "laws of nature"?

I'd really like to know what you mean here in both of your possibilities. Why would you think that an option is that laws of nature are quasi-theological? The regularities are true propositions about the world. I'm not understanding where theology comes into play. By quoting "laws of nature", did you mean to imply that an option is that we are governed by some supernatural force?



 
ACB
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 06:48 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
ACB, you then go on to say:
ACB wrote:
Are the only two possibilities (a) that all regularities occur purely by chance, or (b) that they are due to completely untestable, metaphysical, quasi-theological "laws of nature"?
I'd really like to know what you mean here in both of your possibilities. Why would you think that an option is that laws of nature are quasi-theological? The regularities are true propositions about the world. I'm not understanding where theology comes into play. By quoting "laws of nature", did you mean to imply that an option is that we are governed by some supernatural force?

On page 84 of this thread, in response to your question "What are laws of nature?", Night Ripper stated:

"Most people mean laws in the necessitarian sense, that they are magical rules the universe must obey, must conform itself to. That's theology in disguise."

Like you, I reject supernatural explanations. So what else could "laws of nature" mean?

One view seems to be that they refer to the regularities in the universe which (according to this view) look as if they are "governed" by something (whatever that may be) but are actually "lucky coincidences" of purely random events. On this view, absolutely anything that is logically possible could happen at any time; the force of the Earth's gravity could suddenly double for no reason, or iron could turn into gold, or the tree outside my house could uproot itself and shoot 100 feet into the air. Strangely, those who hold this view do not expect that any such things will actually happen; they predict that the same old regularities will continue to happen by pure chance. On the grounds of (a) its statistical improbability and (b) its inability to justify induction, I consider this "accidental regularity" view of laws of nature to be just as fantastical as any supernatural explanation.

Is there any other alternative? Can we explain the laws of nature (i.e. the observed regularities of the universe) in a way that rejects both supernatural agency and randomness? Can we give a physical, rather than a metaphysical, explanation which does not require outrageous coincidences, and which justifies the use of induction to predict the future? That is to say, some kind of "physical necessity" (as opposed to logical necessity).

Night Ripper's sentence "There could be no other possible universe where the regularities didn't occur" is close to what I am suggesting. However, other possible universes might have different initial conditions from ours, which would result in different causal chains of subsequent events. So I would prefer to say something like "There could be no other possible universe where the (same) regularities didn't occur given the same initial conditions".
 
Night Ripper
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 06:54 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
On the grounds of (a) its statistical improbability and (b) its inability to justify induction, I consider this "accidental regularity" view of laws of nature to be just as fantastical as any supernatural explanation.


(a) Picture the universe as a 3x3 grid of boolean values that evolves over time randomly. How is any configuration from one moment to the next less probable than any other? It's not.

(b) I've already given you a vindication of induction once. Let's say that all the laws of nature will flip upside down tomorrow, obviously induction is going to fail us tomorrow knowing that. However, we don't know that. So, what do you propose to put in its stead? The alternative is random guessing but how could that perform better than induction? After all, by chance, the regularities could continue tomorrow just as easily.
 
Night Ripper
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 07:01 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
"There could be no other possible universe where the (same) regularities didn't occur given the same initial conditions".


The initial conditions aren't the entire picture though. The laws of nature describe how the initial conditions evolve over time. It's actually quite possible for the initial conditions to produce an entirely different chain of events given different laws.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 07:21 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
Night Ripper's sentence "There could be no other possible universe where the regularities didn't occur" is close to what I am suggesting. However, other possible universes might have different initial conditions from ours, which would result in different causal chains of subsequent events. So I would prefer to say something like "There could be no other possible universe where the (same) regularities didn't occur given the same initial conditions"
This appears to be a definition of determinism, so, I dont see how it's a solution to your problem. If the transformations of states of the world aren't specified by laws of nature, aren't a matter of chance and aren't intentionally brought about, what alternative forms of explanation are there?
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 07:47 pm
@fast,
fast, you are now my all-time favorite poster.
 
fast
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 09:07 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:

fast, you are now my all-time favorite poster.

*smiles*
 
fast
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 09:14 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:

fast wrote:
Why should we be blind to the difference between 1) the forces behind the happenings in nature and 2) our statements we devise that describe the former?

You keep repeating yourself. Who here do you think is blind to this? Who do you think is confusing statements with what statements express, describe, or refer to?
Who isn't?
 
Razzleg
 
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 11:47 pm
@fast,
fast wrote:

Zetherin wrote:

fast wrote:
Why should we be blind to the difference between 1) the forces behind the happenings in nature and 2) our statements we devise that describe the former?

You keep repeating yourself. Who here do you think is blind to this? Who do you think is confusing statements with what statements express, describe, or refer to?
Who isn't?


Nicely put...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2010 07:45 am
@fast,
fast wrote:

Zetherin wrote:

fast wrote:
Why should we be blind to the difference between 1) the forces behind the happenings in nature and 2) our statements we devise that describe the former?

You keep repeating yourself. Who here do you think is blind to this? Who do you think is confusing statements with what statements express, describe, or refer to?
Who isn't?


I suppose everyone who does not confuse language with what language is about. I imagine that there are quite a few; like you and me.
 
 

 
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