Carmel wrote:The key word here is "if". If this, then that... or if this, then maybe that. The problem I'm having with this line of thought is that it's entirely too hypothetical, but unlike a scientific hypothesis, it can't be tested and verfied, so, in essence this whole thought experiment is fairly futile. It really amounts to wishful thinking or fiction. You can create whatever outcome you want simply by imagining the desired outcome, in this case, imagining the second version of reality to be different than the first, but I haven't seen any logical argument that supports this.
You are perhaps under the impression that I'm trying to prove a reality with this thought experiment, when I'm actually trying to prove merely a possibility. I'm not "creating whatever outcome I want" - in fact I'm not creating any outcome at all: I'm simply presenting two alternative possibilities and pointing out that we can't, based on pure logic, know which one is true.
The causal nature of reality is obvious - don't you think it's interesting to question the extent to which it holds true though? Yes, short of revelation or omniscience, we will never know the truth, but questioning like this can prevent us from making assumptions.
Carmel wrote:I wouldn't claim to "know", but I would say, without reservation, that all logic points in that direction.
I wouldn't go that far myself, but I take your position.
Carmel wrote:but still no argument is being made.
But I've already explained my argument to you: that, since that falsity would involve no logical contradiction, it is logically possible that causal determinism is false. That's it. I'm just talking in possibilities.
Carmel wrote:I'm still not clear what you mean by "true randomness". To me, that phrase simply means, "truly unpredictable".
Yes, that's what I mean by it: unpredictable even in principle, and unpredictable to the extent that upon replaying the universe the outcome might be (randomly/unpredictably) different than on the original "play" of the universe.
Carmel wrote:...and what do you mean by "some sort of structure above and beyond randomness"? Are you invoking God here?
My, we're quite the suspicious atheist, now aren't we? :-)
No, I simply mean that will seems to entail some structure of cause-and-effect: in other words, I will something to happen (the cause) and then that thing happens (the effect). If the effect is a result of something random, then it's hard to see how it could be classified as having been "willed".
Carmel wrote:I'm not opposed to exploring possiblities, but I need viable reasons to back them up, otherwise, it's just an exercise of the imagination and won't have any effect on my viewpoint.
The only effects that I want to have on your viewpoint is for you to acknowledge one or more (preferably all) of the following:
- that causal determinism entails at least two absurdities
- that it is possible that causal determinism is false, and
- that it is possible that the absurdities of causal determinism might, in some as-yet unknown way, be overcome if the possibility that causal determinism is false indeed turns out to be true.
Carmel wrote:I've experienced both dejavu and precognition(yes, really:), or even both surrounding the same event. Determinism would help explain both of these phenomena, especially precognition. This is just a personal anecdote, take or leave it...
I take you at your word. As I've acknowledged, these type of phenomena do pose a challenge to indeterminism, although perhaps not a fatal one.
Carmel wrote:It's interesting that determinism actually does match my intuitive experience, but doesn't seem to match yours, but how we experience things is highly subjective and not really something to base an argument on, my own experiences included.
In some ways it matches my intuitive experience and in some ways it doesn't.
Carmel wrote:I think I understand it somewhat better now, but I can't help but wonder if your religious views could be a large influencing factor on your beliefs. i.e. The notion that God gave us free will, etc...Do you think that's the case?
Suspicious atheist, indeed. Carmel, I've not figured God into any of this at all - it's purely materialist speculative thinking.
cousinbasil wrote:Far be it from me to defend David, who seems to do just fine defending himself, but he expressly denied talking about what you are calling "causal determinism."
I was judging by his answer to the thought experiment.
cousinbasil wrote:Laird - I am not talking about this hypothetical scenario in the least.
Well, then we are talking at cross purposes.
cousinbasil wrote:I am talking about what is, and only what is. Surely, if I allow you this one hypothetical ability to rewind time for every aspect of the present universe, what's to stop you from arrogating to yourself the ability to then send that universe forward again to an outcome that is to your liking, that is, to an alternative present which differs from the one we started with so you can then proclaim the death of causal determinism?
Like Carmel, you seem to be misunderstanding me. I'm not arguing for the truth
of indeterminism, merely for the logical possibility
cousinbasil wrote:I am saying that at each temporal point, the world is at it is and not some other way. I do not believe everything everywhere is linked by a causal web which exists in the present. In other words, you cannot tweak something in a distant galaxy and have a repercussion of it here in the next instant.
But I do believe that the state of the universe at any moment and at any location is a result of prior causes.
That is the sum total of what I have been saying.
You do also, though, seem to be saying that the universe is causally deterministic, judging by your answer to my thought experiment. Just for clarity, though, do you agree or disagree with the following statement?: "Causal determinism is definitively true."
cousinbasil wrote:You are claiming this bears out that causal determinism must be failing, since the trial runs are set up identically and never changed.
Hang on, you're putting words into my mouth.
guest_of_logic: If events are not predetermined, then they are in some sense "free" (in the causal sense), and this opens the door to the possibility of a truly libertarian free will.
cousinbasil: I am not convinced that human choice can be classified as an event the same way every physical event is classified. By this I mean, human will can be a cause, and it can be an effect, but it need not be either. Human mentation seems as if it can occur unrelated to previous events, either internal or external.
So then it appears that you believe that the mind is indeterministic.
Even without that distinction, though, it depends on what we count as a cause. For causal determinism, we consider as causes only prior events, so how about a scenario in which the universe has a definite beginning in time and owes its existence to some sort of quantum principle? We could not count the quantum principle as a cause because it does not exist in any prior state of the universe (because there is no prior state), and so any event at time zero would be without a cause (in the temporal sense - obviously not in the non-temporal senses that David also includes).
You'll note that in a response to Locke, I proposed a hypothetical Event Alpha, which is the one event lying withing the light cone of every event in the universe besides itself at every subsequent instant of time.
This would be, say, a Big Bang, whether a quantum fluctuation or something else. If there is an Alpha Point, causality is meaningless there, just as equations of QM and relativity break down there and run to mathematical singularities.
If David is correct and there was no such uncaused beginning of things, your example reduces to another thought experiment that has the same value as your "rewinding the universe" Gedankenexperiment
David, however, does not and cannot know - he is just surmising based on logical consistency, which is as valid a motivation as any other, I suppose.
But if he is not correct and there was an Alpha Event, it does not alter the fact that every subsequent event is caused, and causes another event in turn.
After all of that I'm not sure whether or not you consider that I have met your challenge of providing an example of an uncaused thing - as best I can tell it's a case of "Maybe, depending on whether the universe has a beginning".
David: There is no real difference between a "cause" and a "condition", at bottom.
guest_of_logic: That depends on what you mean by "real". Conditions are defined to be less relevant than causes, but yes, "Both fall into the category of being part contributors of a thing's existence".
David: A "condition" is just as relevent to a thing's existence as a "cause is". A tree can no more exist in the absence of space than it can in the absence of its DNA.
What I meant by "less relevant" might better be expressed as "less specific". For example, consider the cause-and-effect relationship between spearing a man through the heart and that man dying. One condition of this effect is that the universe exists, however the existence of the universe does not in and of itself imply the death of that man, whereas the spearing does: the cause of his spearing is more specific to his death than the condition of the existence of the universe.
guest_of_logic: Definitions by their nature include certain things and exclude certain other things, and you've already noted your agreement with this definition - now you're just trying to save face.
David: The only definition of causality that I agree to is "things cannot exist by themselves", or "things necessarily come from other things".
That's completely irrelevant since we're discussing the definition of "causal determinism", not that of "causality".
David: It is important to tease out all the logical implications of the matter. For example, it is logically the case that the present couldn't happen without the past. It is only by things disappearing into the past that room can be made for things to emerge in the present. So already the connection between past and present is logically demonstrated.
guest_of_logic: This is another strawman. I'm not disputing a relationship between past and present, I'm disputing that we can know for certain that the past wholly determines the present, such that a "replay" of the universe would definitely follow the same course. You haven't proved that we can know that, David.
David: The proof was demonstrated a number of posts ago. Given that a thing can only come from what is not itself, where else can the present come from but from what is not itself?
It's baffling to me that you seem to believe that a rhetorical question this vague can somehow be construed as a proof that a replay of the universe would follow the same course as the first time. Seriously, David, do you have anything concrete and rigorous?
David Quinn wrote:The problem with this conversation, apart from the fact that you don't want to understand anything, is that you are basing your "speculations" about the possibility of uncaused events on the false, academic idea that things and events exist as discrete entities. In other words, you're conceiving of things as separate, isolated lumps, as it were. So your starting basis in all of this is rooted in fiction.
Nonsense. My position doesn't depend on discreteness at all.