Re: Thoughts on necessity, probability, and causal interconnectedness (reply to Roderick)
- I did make at least one error in my previous post. It is quite possible to have a "casual relationship" in a completely deterministic world. ;/JeffOn Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 10:04 AM, J Olson <jlolson53@...> wrote:
> Whether or not your partly necessitating determinism - as realized
> in a "regular universe" - reduces to a variant of determinism (which
> I've been claiming),
If my position is a form of determinism, what position would you not count as a form of determinism?
Suppose there were a position, panalethism, that held that every sentence is true. And suppose you denied it: "Some sentences are not true!" And suppose the panalethist replied: "Ah, but then you have to admit it's TRUE that some sentences are not true. And so your position is really a form of alethism -- a light brown as opposed to a dark blue alethism." Wouldn't you protest?
> As is the claim that such a variant of determinism is logically coherent
>(I doubt it is).
I owe you a few replies, but I'm going to try to consolidate them into one post.
First, my irascible imaginary opponent (I see him as a light beer-swilling guy with a Confederate flag pasted on his car and roadkill grilling in the backyard, though perhaps my imagination is slightly prejudicial ;-). When I claim that it's more or less axiomatic that everything happens for a reason, he demands to know why that shouldn't extend to things like "existence" or "reality itself."
I believe I'm being accused of logical inconsistency – of a tu qouque fallacy – by in effect claiming that non-determinists are wrong because "everything must happen for a reason" while not applying that to my own argument.
First, there is some ambiguity between "everything must happen for a reason," "everything that happens does so out of necessity," and my original "every event has both a sufficient and necessary cause." As you pointed out, indeterminism counts as a "reason." So would any theory, even including acausality. The same could (perhaps) be said of "necessity": even in a probabilistic or completely acausal world, everything that happens would do so out of necessity – that is behaving according to probabilistic or acausal rules. In fact, I think indeterminism/acausality could be seen as compatible with my original "sufficient and necessary cause" statement.
I'm not trying to define away everything non-deterministic, but it looks like it's far more difficult (at least for me) to clearly distinguish between determinism and non-determinism – at least based on the necessity criterion. In both worlds, physical laws equally apply. In a so-called deterministic world we would see, presumably, obvious physical connections between which always hold. No randomness allowed. In a non-deterministic world, some mixture of what we perceive as randomness and non-randomness would obtain. In a completely acasual universe, no non-random connections could be established between anything. And yet that universe would be "determined" in the sense that acausal laws would need to be obeyed (or it wouldn't be truly acausal).
What the above leads me to is a new insight for me: causality is fundamentally about connections between things. In a completely deterministic universe, everything has or can have a connectedness – that is, a casual relationship. In a completely non-deterministic (or acausal) universe, nothing is connected. None of the things in an acausal universe connects with any other thing, save the structure of reality itself. The law of identity is seemingly suspended. Things spring in and out of existence spontaneously, generated by the rules of acausal reality.
In a probabilistic universe, things bear a partial or near-complete causal connection to each other, depending on the probability extant (what a neat idea for a SF novel: somehow the basic probability of the universe is altered. Has this been done?).
A couple of questions immediately stand out for me. First, what reasons/physical evidence would be needed to establish a probabilistic universe? Second, is there any evidence now to suggest this is the case? QM does present some evidence supporting this hypothesis, but it seems far from conclusive to me. Other more "realistic" or deterministic interpretations have been offered which strike me as at least possibly sound. And as far as I know, no one has ever observed a probabilistic event in the macro world (though I'm not sure we'd recognize it if that occurred; the difficulties of proving such an event would appear rather formidable).
In any case, it seems clear that probabilistic or acausal worlds not only offer no boon to free will (in any sense that free will is meaningful), but would surely tend to undermine it. If you sprang in and out of existence spontaneously, if your actions and thoughts had no (or a reduced) influence on things around you, that would seem utterly opposed to the efficacy of our wills. I must confess that I've never understood why some people apparently believe that adding randomness to our lives would make us freer.
I think the above suggests an answer to what would count as a form of determinism, and it's rather more complex than I'd expected. It depends on the essential definition – the essential defining characteristic or characteristics – of determinism. I see that definition now as "A necessary casual connection between all things." So what would count as not that would be "A non-necessary connection between some or all things."
The fact that I can describe worlds without necessary interconnections between things suggests that the concept isn't logical incoherent, as I speculated previously. However, I think it's clear that any world which dipped below a very high necessary connectedness would make the evolution of beings and knowledge and civilization impossible (at least as we know these things).
As for the logical inconsistency charge, that depends on my basic claim. If I'm claiming, as have religionists in defense of a First Cause, that "everything must be caused," then yes, of course, that's logically inconsistent. I don't see any logical inconsistency, however, in claiming that "everything that exists, save existence itself, is necessarily causally interconnected" (though one could argue that existence is casually connected to the things within it; not sure about that – but if so, it's surely in a different sense from how things in existence interrelate). If my interlocutor demands "But if existence didn't happen for a reason, then why need anything else?", I would reply that "Why?s" inevitably lead, if taken far enough, to a "Because" (or "it just is"). Acknowledging that there is an ultimate "just is" – which I apply to Existence – is not logical inconsistency, but rather an inescapable fact about how logical regressive analysis must terminate. But above that termination point, it is logically consistent to say that all things interact.
- Out of morbid curiosity I checked wikipedia out and lo and behold...
so called 'entanglement'
"This behavior is consistent with quantum-mechanical theory, has been demonstrated experimentally, and is an area of extremely active research by the physics community. **However there is some heated debate about whether a possible classical underlying mechanism could explain why this correlation occurs instantaneously even when the separation distance is large. The difference in opinion derives from espousal of various interpretations of quantum mechanics.**"