Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

necessity and hypotheticals

Expand Messages
  • twclark2002
    Stephen Lawrence wrote over at Applied Naturalism:
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 12, 2008
      Stephen Lawrence wrote over at Applied Naturalism:

      <So for instance, let's say I have a chipped windscreen and am asked
      what caused it. I'll say "a stone flew up and hit it". If asked how
      do I know that was the cause, I'll say "because if the stone hadn't
      flown up and hit it, it wouldn't be chipped."

      The obvious problem with this is I don't believe the stone could have
      not flown up, so I'm establishing the cause with an impossible
      hypothetical.

      So what should I do? Stop talking in this way and come up with
      something else? Or continue to talk in this way and justify it
      somehow without contradicting my necessitarian view?

      I believe I should do the latter but precisely how, I'm not sure.>


      Stephen,

      I don't see that there's a problem in talking about hypotheticals
      that according to determinism could not have occurred. A hypothetical
      simply states that if conditions had been different, a different
      outcome would have followed. That different state of affairs need
      not be possible in the sense that it could have occurred *given the
      actual state of affairs*, which is what the libertarian asserts. It
      only need be possible in the sense of being imaginable, and that's
      the only sense we need in the example you give. We can imagine that
      had conditions been different, the stone would not have flown up and
      the windshield would have remained undamaged; we don't have to
      suppose that given the actual state of the road, car, etc. the stone
      could not have flown up. So we can talk about hypotheticals and still
      suppose that things happen deterministically. Or so it seems to me.

      Tom
    • stephnlawrnce
      ... hypothetical ... and ... stone ... still ... Well we can but it s still the case that if the universe could not have been in a different state, that the
      Message 2 of 12 , Aug 13, 2008
        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "twclark2002"
        <twc@...> wrote:

        > I don't see that there's a problem in talking about hypotheticals
        > that according to determinism could not have occurred. A
        hypothetical
        > simply states that if conditions had been different, a different
        > outcome would have followed. That different state of affairs need
        > not be possible in the sense that it could have occurred *given the
        > actual state of affairs*, which is what the libertarian asserts. It
        > only need be possible in the sense of being imaginable, and that's
        > the only sense we need in the example you give. We can imagine that
        > had conditions been different, the stone would not have flown up
        and
        > the windshield would have remained undamaged; we don't have to
        > suppose that given the actual state of the road, car, etc. the
        stone
        > could not have flown up. So we can talk about hypotheticals and
        still
        > suppose that things happen deterministically. Or so it seems to me.
        >

        Well we can but it's still the case that if the universe could not
        have been in a different state, that the hypothetical is impossible.

        So we are talking about what could have happened if the universe had
        been in a state which it couldn't possibly have been in.

        This means, in a sense, we are talking about what couldn't happen and
        so we have an apparent contradiction, which needs making sense of.

        Stephen
      • twclark2002
        One reason it makes sense to imagine situations that aren t possible given determinism is that actual situations have occurred which are close, even nearly
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 13, 2008
          One reason it makes sense to imagine situations that aren't possible
          given determinism is that actual situations have occurred which are
          close, even nearly identical, to the one imagined. For instance, we have
          experienced times, or know of times, when rocks have flown up and
          chipped windshields and other times when they have not, depending on
          conditions. Therefore we can imagine in this particular case that the
          rock would not have flown up, *had conditions been somewhat different*
          (even if they couldn't have been different due to determinism). All it
          takes is the actual world to understand the idea of possibility and
          cause and effect, the law-like dependence of one state of affairs on
          another.

          For some reason I don't feel that there's a contradiction here that
          needs sorting out. But maybe I'm missing the point.

          Tom


          --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "stephnlawrnce"
          <stephnlawrnce@...> wrote:
          >
          > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "twclark2002"
          > twc@ wrote:
          >
          > > I don't see that there's a problem in talking about hypotheticals
          > > that according to determinism could not have occurred. A
          > hypothetical
          > > simply states that if conditions had been different, a different
          > > outcome would have followed. That different state of affairs need
          > > not be possible in the sense that it could have occurred *given the
          > > actual state of affairs*, which is what the libertarian asserts. It
          > > only need be possible in the sense of being imaginable, and that's
          > > the only sense we need in the example you give. We can imagine that
          > > had conditions been different, the stone would not have flown up
          > and
          > > the windshield would have remained undamaged; we don't have to
          > > suppose that given the actual state of the road, car, etc. the
          > stone
          > > could not have flown up. So we can talk about hypotheticals and
          > still
          > > suppose that things happen deterministically. Or so it seems to me.
          > >
          >
          > Well we can but it's still the case that if the universe could not
          > have been in a different state, that the hypothetical is impossible.
          >
          > So we are talking about what could have happened if the universe had
          > been in a state which it couldn't possibly have been in.
          >
          > This means, in a sense, we are talking about what couldn't happen and
          > so we have an apparent contradiction, which needs making sense of.
          >
          > Stephen
          >
        • stephnlawrnce@aol.com
          In a message dated 13/08/2008 14:23:45 GMT Standard Time, twc@naturalism.org writes: One reason it makes sense to imagine situations that aren t possible
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 13, 2008
            In a message dated 13/08/2008 14:23:45 GMT Standard Time, twc@... writes:
            One reason it makes sense to imagine situations that aren't possible
            given determinism is that actual situations have occurred which are
            close, even nearly identical, to the one imagined. For instance, we have
            experienced times, or know of times, when rocks have flown up and
            chipped windshields and other times when they have not, depending on
            conditions. Therefore we can imagine in this particular case that the
            rock would not have flown up, *had conditions been somewhat different*
            Yes I think we start by comparing different actual circumstances and then learn to compare actual circumstances with imaginary cirumstances. 
             
             

            (even if they couldn't have been different due to determinism) .
            Strangely most philosophers who are determinists wouldn't agree with this.
             
             
            Necessitarianism is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be. It is the strongest member of a family of principles, including hard determinism, each of which deny free choice, reasoning that human actions are predetermined by external antecedents. Necessitarianism is stronger than hard determinism, because even the hard determinist would grant that the causal chain constituting the world might have been different as a whole, even though each member of that series could not have been different, given its antecedent causes
             
             
             
            All it
            takes is the actual world to understand the idea of possibility
            But in what sense are the circumstances we imagine possible? They are not possible in the sense that they could have arisen.
             
             


            For some reason I don't feel that there's a contradiction here that
            needs sorting out. But maybe I'm missing the point.
             
            It's true that the windscreen could have been damage free, if the stone hadn't flown up and hit it.
             
            It's true that the stone could not have not flown up and hit it, therefore it's true that the windscreen could not be damage free
             
            Stephen
             
             
             
          • twclark2002
            ... wrote:
            Message 5 of 12 , Aug 13, 2008


              --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, stephnlawrnce@... wrote:

              <It's true that the windscreen could have been damage free, if the stone hadn't flown up and hit it.

              It's true that the stone could not have not flown up and hit it, therefore it's true that the windscreen could not be damage free.> 

               Here's another way to put this:

              If the stone hadn't flown up and hit it, the windscreen could have been damage free. But since the stone did fly up and hit it, and was determined to do so given the conditions, the windscreen couldn't be damage free.

              This doesn't seem to me to involve a contradiction. The imagined, but not deterministically possible hypothetical makes it *hypothetically* the case that the windscreen could not have been damaged. But since it's only an imagined hypothetical, and not possible given determinism, the windscreen *actually* must have been damaged.  Make sense?

              An imagined possibility doesn't need to be possible given the exact circumstances, but only had circumstances been different, which of course they never are, but that's OK. Imagined possibilities don't have to be real possibilities in order to serve their cognitive function. They are tools we use so as to be able to handle situations in which the actual circumstances are as we have imagined they might be.  

              Tom


              >
              > In a message dated 13/08/2008 14:23:45 GMT Standard Time, twc@...
              > writes:
              >
              > One reason it makes sense to imagine situations that aren't possible
              > given determinism is that actual situations have occurred which are
              > close, even nearly identical, to the one imagined. For instance, we have
              > experienced times, or know of times, when rocks have flown up and
              > chipped windshields and other times when they have not, depending on
              > conditions. Therefore we can imagine in this particular case that the
              > rock would not have flown up, *had conditions been somewhat different*
              > Yes I think we start by comparing different actual circumstances and then
              > learn to compare actual circumstances with imaginary cirumstances.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > (even if they couldn't have been different due to determinism)(e
              > Strangely most philosophers who are determinists wouldn't agree with this.
              >
              >
              > _http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessitarianism_
              > (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessitarianism)
              > Necessitarianism is a _metaphysical_
              > (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics) principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for
              > the world to be. It is the strongest member of a family of principles,
              > including hard determinism, each of which deny _free choice_
              > (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_choice) , reasoning that human actions are predetermined by
              > external antecedents. Necessitarianism is stronger than hard determinism, because
              > even the hard determinist would grant that the causal chain constituting the
              > world might have been different as a whole, even though each member of that
              > series could not have been different, given its antecedent causes
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > All it
              > takes is the actual world to understand the idea of possibility
              > But in what sense are the circumstances we imagine possible? They are not
              > possible in the sense that they could have arisen.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > For some reason I don't feel that there's a contradiction here that
              > needs sorting out. But maybe I'm missing the point.
              >
              > It's true that the windscreen could have been damage free, if the stone
              > hadn't flown up and hit it.
              >
              > It's true that the stone could not have not flown up and hit it, therefore
              > it's true that the windscreen could not be damage free.
              >
              > Stephen
              >

            • stephnlawrnce@aol.com
              In a message dated 13/08/2008 17:39:15 GMT Standard Time, twc@naturalism.org writes: Here s another way to put this: If the stone hadn t flown up and hit
              Message 6 of 12 , Aug 13, 2008
                In a message dated 13/08/2008 17:39:15 GMT Standard Time, twc@... writes:

                Here's another way to put this:

                If the stone hadn't flown up and hit it, the windscreen could have been damage free. But since the stone did fly up and hit it, and was determined to do so given the conditions, the windscreen couldn't be damage free.

                This doesn't seem to me to involve a contradiction.

                That's true, there is no contradiction here.
                 
                 

                The imagined, but not deterministically possible hypothetical makes it *hypothetically* the case that the windscreen could not have been damaged. But since it's only an imagined hypothetical, and not possible given determinism, the windscreen *actually* must have been damaged.  Make sense?

                 
                This is where it gets a bit messy. We need to explain why it makes sense to say something could have happened hypothetically, if we are also saying the hypothetical is deterministically impossible. This is where the apparent contradiction is. I think we might have to drop could altogether.
                 
                I think we can say, if we were to apply the relevant laws of physics to the invented scenario, we would get the result that the windscreen was not damaged.
                 
                I think the other thing we need is an understanding of what sense the hypothetical is possible (if any) if it's deterministically impossible.
                 
                Stephen
                 
              • twclark2002
                ... wrote:
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 13, 2008
                  --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, stephnlawrnce@...
                  wrote:

                  <This is where it gets a bit messy. We need to explain why it makes
                  sense to say something could have happened hypothetically, if we are
                  also saying the hypothetical is deterministically impossible. This is
                  where the apparent contradiction is. I think we might have to drop
                  could altogether.

                  I think we can say, if we were to apply the relevant laws of physics
                  to the invented scenario, we would get the result that the windscreen
                  was not damaged.

                  I think the other thing we need is an understanding of what sense the
                  hypothetical is possible (if any) if it's deterministically
                  impossible.>

                  Seems to me it makes sense to say something could have happened
                  hypothetically just in case it isn't logically impossible, even
                  though it might be deterministically impossible. So the sense in
                  which a hypothetical is possible is perhaps simply that it's
                  logically possible. But I'm simply stating what seems intuitive to
                  me, not being familiar with the technicalities which might show this
                  intuition to be problematic.

                  I'm curious about how this issue eventually leads back to questions
                  of freedom and responsibility. Could you say a bit about that?

                  thanks,

                  Tom


                  >
                  > In a message dated 13/08/2008 17:39:15 GMT Standard Time, twc@...
                  > writes:
                  >
                  > Here's another way to put this:
                  > If the stone hadn't flown up and hit it, the windscreen could have
                  been
                  > damage free. But since the stone did fly up and hit it, and was
                  determined to do
                  > so given the conditions, the windscreen couldn't be damage free.
                  > This doesn't seem to me to involve a contradiction.
                  > That's true, there is no contradiction here.
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > The imagined, but not deterministically possible hypothetical
                  makes it
                  > *hypothetically* the case that the windscreen could not have been
                  damaged. But
                  > since it's only an imagined hypothetical, and not possible given
                  determinism,
                  > the windscreen *actually* must have been damaged. Make sense?
                  >
                  > This is where it gets a bit messy. We need to explain why it makes
                  sense to
                  > say something could have happened hypothetically, if we are also
                  saying the
                  > hypothetical is deterministically impossible. This is where the
                  apparent
                  > contradiction is. I think we might have to drop could altogether.
                  >
                  > I think we can say, if we were to apply the relevant laws of
                  physics to the
                  > invented scenario, we would get the result that the windscreen was
                  not
                  > damaged.
                  >
                  > I think the other thing we need is an understanding of what sense
                  the
                  > hypothetical is possible (if any) if it's deterministically
                  impossible.
                  >
                  >
                  > Stephen
                  >
                • stephnlawrnce
                  Hi Tom, ... Yes,I think it might be this simple but as far as I can tell most philosophers believe was possible means could have been actual. I really don t
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 14, 2008
                    Hi Tom,

                    --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "twclark2002"
                    <twc@...> wrote:

                    >
                    > Seems to me it makes sense to say something could have happened
                    > hypothetically just in case it isn't logically impossible, even
                    > though it might be deterministically impossible. So the sense in
                    > which a hypothetical is possible is perhaps simply that it's
                    > logically possible.

                    Yes,I think it might be this simple but as far as I can tell most
                    philosophers believe was possible means could have been actual. I
                    really don't know, I find it very difficult and confusing.
                    >
                    > I'm curious about how this issue eventually leads back to questions
                    > of freedom and responsibility. Could you say a bit about that?
                    >
                    For me personaly I don't think it does. We can't do otherwise in the
                    circumstances in any way that could give us freedom. And we can't
                    beam ourselves into different cirumstances, so if we could be in
                    different cirumstances or not is irrelevent.

                    I'm very curious about it because deterministically impossible
                    counterfactuals are such a big part of how we view the world. One
                    philosopher at CFI says that without them there could be no causes.
                    That causation requires that necessitarianism is false, which rather
                    turns my world view on it's head.

                    Coming back to your question, for him if we lived in a necessary
                    world our beliefs and desires could not cause our actions and
                    therefore we could not have the compatibilist free will he believes
                    in.

                    Leibniz seemed to reject necessitarianism because he believed there
                    could be no choices or voluntary actions in a necessary universe.

                    I suspect this is at the bottom of rejection of necessitarianism and
                    has been re-enforced (unfortunately for us) in more recent times by
                    quantum physics.


                    http://www.umass.edu/philosophy/events/papers/lin-rationalsim.pdf

                    2 Leibniz's rejection of necessitarianism
                    As we have noted, Leibniz flirtation with necessitarianism was brief.
                    Indeed,
                    he comes to view necessitarianism as among the worst features of
                    Spinozism.
                    Exactly what did Leibniz ¯find so repugnant about necessitarianism?
                    An
                    eloquent statement of his reasons can be found in the Theodicy, when
                    he
                    writes:
                    Rationalism and Necessitarianism 6
                    Spinoza [...] appears to have explicitly taught a blind necessity,
                    having denied to the author of things understanding and will, and
                    imagining that good and perfection pertain only to us and not to
                    him. It is true that Spinoza's opinion on this subject is somewhat
                    obscure [...] Nevertheless, as far as one can understand him, he
                    admits no goodness in God, strictly speaking, and he teaches that
                    all things exist by the necessity of the Divine nature, without God
                    making any choice. We will not amuse ourselves here refuting an
                    opinion so bad, and indeed so inexplicable. Our own is founded
                    on the nature of the possibles. (T 173)
                    In this passage, Leibniz denounces Spinoza for teaching the following
                    three
                    doctrines: necessitarianism, that God does not choose when he creates
                    the
                    world, and, worst of all, that God is not morally good. In Leibniz's
                    mind,
                    these three claims are related. We see this when, later in the same
                    work,
                    Leibniz sets out three conditions on voluntary agency:
                    ² Spontaneity
                    ² Contingency
                    ² Intelligence
                    As Leibniz understands these conditions, an agent is a voluntary
                    agent just
                    in case it is the causal source of its action (spontaneity);
                    alternative courses
                    of action were possible (contingency); and the agent was aware of
                    these al-
                    ternatives (intelligence).

                    Stephen
                  • Will Davidson
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 14, 2008
                      <<<We need to explain why it makes sense to say something could have happened hypothetically, if we are also saying the hypothetical is deterministically impossible.>>>
                       
                      Hypotheticals are only relevant in so far as they predict future events.  If we had perfect knowledge we would always know when and under what circumstances a rock would hit a windshield based on the causal chain.
                      Since we don't have perfect knowledge we must rely on hypotheticals as a means of imagining future possible events.
                       
                      I don't think it makes sense to consider hypotehtical situations in the past unless the result is better predicatability of future events. As you say, the past could not have happened in any other way.
                       
                      Will

                    • twclark2002
                      ... wrote:
                      Message 10 of 12 , Aug 14, 2008
                        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "stephnlawrnce"
                        <stephnlawrnce@...> wrote:

                        < Leibniz seemed to reject necessitarianism because he believed there
                        could be no choices or voluntary actions in a necessary universe.

                        I suspect this is at the bottom of rejection of necessitarianism and
                        has been re-enforced (unfortunately for us) in more recent times by
                        quantum physics.>

                        Yes, Leibniz and other folks are prone to tailoring their metaphysics
                        to fit preconceived notion of freedom and choice (e.g., that it
                        *must* incorporate spontaneity and contingency). So they will do
                        their level best to find some account, however obscure, to preserve
                        their preconceptions.

                        We of course don't want to fall into this trap, which is why I
                        appreciate your grappling with these puzzles. If we're missing
                        something basic, we want to know about it. Our decision criteria for
                        these matters is what our best science and logical analysis show to
                        be the case, not our preferences for any particular conclusion,
                        necessitarianism included. We just want to understand how things
                        actually work.

                        Given the human penchant for projecting our hopes and desires onto
                        the world, I see defenses of libertarianism being very much like
                        apologetics for god. People strongly *want* to be causal exceptions
                        to nature, just as they want there to be life everlasting. This is a
                        good reason to be skeptical of libertarianism, along with the fact
                        that the defenses of it are so obscure and/or empirically sketchy.
                        Likewise for compatibilist retributivism.

                        Commonsensically, I don't see why causation requires there to be
                        deterministically impossible counterfactuals. After all, our notion
                        of causal necessity comes from observing the actual world, seeing the
                        law-like regularities that obtain and that allow us to predict
                        events. We can imagine counterfactuals that couldn't have occurred in
                        the actual world given conditions as they've played out thus far, but
                        that might occur in the future. So what's the problem? None, unless
                        perhaps you've got a stake in preserving some preconception about
                        human agency.

                        best,

                        Tom



                        > Hi Tom,
                        >
                        > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "twclark2002"
                        > <twc@> wrote:
                        >
                        > >
                        > > Seems to me it makes sense to say something could have happened
                        > > hypothetically just in case it isn't logically impossible, even
                        > > though it might be deterministically impossible. So the sense in
                        > > which a hypothetical is possible is perhaps simply that it's
                        > > logically possible.
                        >
                        > Yes,I think it might be this simple but as far as I can tell most
                        > philosophers believe was possible means could have been actual. I
                        > really don't know, I find it very difficult and confusing.
                        > >
                        > > I'm curious about how this issue eventually leads back to
                        questions
                        > > of freedom and responsibility. Could you say a bit about that?
                        > >
                        > For me personaly I don't think it does. We can't do otherwise in
                        the
                        > circumstances in any way that could give us freedom. And we can't
                        > beam ourselves into different cirumstances, so if we could be in
                        > different cirumstances or not is irrelevent.
                        >
                        > I'm very curious about it because deterministically impossible
                        > counterfactuals are such a big part of how we view the world. One
                        > philosopher at CFI says that without them there could be no causes.
                        > That causation requires that necessitarianism is false, which
                        rather
                        > turns my world view on it's head.
                        >
                        > Coming back to your question, for him if we lived in a necessary
                        > world our beliefs and desires could not cause our actions and
                        > therefore we could not have the compatibilist free will he believes
                        > in.
                        >
                        > Leibniz seemed to reject necessitarianism because he believed there
                        > could be no choices or voluntary actions in a necessary universe.
                        >
                        > I suspect this is at the bottom of rejection of necessitarianism
                        and
                        > has been re-enforced (unfortunately for us) in more recent times by
                        > quantum physics.
                        >
                        >
                        > http://www.umass.edu/philosophy/events/papers/lin-rationalsim.pdf
                        >
                        > 2 Leibniz's rejection of necessitarianism
                        > As we have noted, Leibniz flirtation with necessitarianism was
                        brief.
                        > Indeed,
                        > he comes to view necessitarianism as among the worst features of
                        > Spinozism.
                        > Exactly what did Leibniz ¯find so repugnant about necessitarianism?
                        > An
                        > eloquent statement of his reasons can be found in the Theodicy,
                        when
                        > he
                        > writes:
                        > Rationalism and Necessitarianism 6
                        > Spinoza [...] appears to have explicitly taught a blind necessity,
                        > having denied to the author of things understanding and will, and
                        > imagining that good and perfection pertain only to us and not to
                        > him. It is true that Spinoza's opinion on this subject is somewhat
                        > obscure [...] Nevertheless, as far as one can understand him, he
                        > admits no goodness in God, strictly speaking, and he teaches that
                        > all things exist by the necessity of the Divine nature, without God
                        > making any choice. We will not amuse ourselves here refuting an
                        > opinion so bad, and indeed so inexplicable. Our own is founded
                        > on the nature of the possibles. (T 173)
                        > In this passage, Leibniz denounces Spinoza for teaching the
                        following
                        > three
                        > doctrines: necessitarianism, that God does not choose when he
                        creates
                        > the
                        > world, and, worst of all, that God is not morally good. In
                        Leibniz's
                        > mind,
                        > these three claims are related. We see this when, later in the same
                        > work,
                        > Leibniz sets out three conditions on voluntary agency:
                        > ² Spontaneity
                        > ² Contingency
                        > ² Intelligence
                        > As Leibniz understands these conditions, an agent is a voluntary
                        > agent just
                        > in case it is the causal source of its action (spontaneity);
                        > alternative courses
                        > of action were possible (contingency); and the agent was aware of
                        > these al-
                        > ternatives (intelligence).
                        >
                        > Stephen
                        >
                      • stephnlawrnce
                        Hi Will,--- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, Will ... have happened hypothetically, if we are also saying the hypothetical is deterministically
                        Message 11 of 12 , Aug 15, 2008
                          Hi Will,--- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, Will
                          Davidson <will_g_davidson@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > <<<We need to explain why it makes sense to say something could
                          have happened hypothetically, if we are also saying the hypothetical
                          is deterministically impossible.>>>
                          >  
                          > Hypotheticals are only relevant in so far as they predict future
                          events.  If we had perfect knowledge we would always know when and
                          under what circumstances a rock would hit a windshield based on the
                          causal chain.
                          > Since we don't have perfect knowledge we must rely on hypotheticals
                          as a means of imagining future possible events.
                          >  
                          > I don't think it makes sense to consider hypotehtical situations in
                          the past unless the result is better predicatability of future
                          events. As you say, the past could not have happened in any other way.

                          But if we look at a past event and say it was caused what are we
                          saying? What am I saying when I say the stone caused the windscreen
                          to be chipped?

                          The argument goes that what I'm saying is that if the stone had not
                          flown up, the windscreen would not be chipped and so,indirectly, I'm
                          using these impossible hypotheticals all the time when telling the
                          causal story about the past.

                          Stephen
                        • Will Davidson
                          Steve, From a subjective standpoint I might say If only that rock hadn t bounced off the highway and taken that exact trajectory might windshield would still
                          Message 12 of 12 , Aug 15, 2008
                            Steve,
                            From a subjective standpoint I might say "If only that rock hadn't bounced off the highway and taken that exact trajectory might windshield would still be whole."
                            I guess I say this because in the past I had experienced other instances when rocks bounced up but didn't hit the windshield.
                            Humans need to feel in conrol of events and so this is a sort of projection of control into the past. We replay the hated event over and over again in our minds creating hypothetical alternatives to the actual events.
                            <<<The argument goes that what I'm saying is that if the stone had not
                            flown up, the windscreen would not be chipped and so,indirectly, I'm
                            using these impossible hypotheticals all the time when telling the
                            causal story about the past.>>>
                            When I say that the stone flew up and chipped windshield, I am proposing a theory of past events. I don't see that the theory necessarily infers other hypotheticals.  But I may use hypotheticals in order to avoid future similar events.
                            One time while driving a fifth-wheel trailer on an unfamilar route, I was forced by construction to detour. This detour forced me to try an alternate route than the one I wanted which in turn lead me down a one-way street that narrowed at the end. Turning the corner at the end of the narrow street, I crunched the side of the trailer.
                            Afterwards looking back in retrospect I could see a chain of causal events that inevitably lead to the accident. This left me feeling very frustrated.
                            But by imagining hypotheticals I could learn a strategy for avoiding this situation in the future.
                            In their need to control events humans may look back on a chain of causal events and belive that they could have done differently.
                             
                            Will
                             

                          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.