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Post 80

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 1:02amSanction this postReply
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Nathan: “”Irreducible,” as I'm using it, does not mean that order MUST exist, but simply that it has no components, that order is a metaphysical fact which is not comprised of other metaphysical facts.”

The necessity I’m referring to is logical necessity. If you’re trying to use a logical truth to say something about the world, the necessity of the statement carries over into any empirical claims about the world. That is, if there is such an axiom as “order exists”, and it has empirical implications, the truth of the statement necessarily applies across the board to everything in the world.

So if you’re going to use a logical truth as an inductive principle, there cannot be any exceptions, such as “probability” and “disorder”. If you are going to allow for exceptions, then “order exists” begins to sounds very much like “the universe exhibits order”, in which case your inductive principle is an empirical statement, with its attendant question-begging implications.

As for your claim that all logic proceeds from assumptions, this is at best a half-truth. A good many “inductive” style arguments also proceed from observation. Here’s one: I have seen a hundred crows, and they have all been black. If you want to base an argument about the way the world works on an assumption, go to it, but in that case the conclusion must be consistent with the assumption.

Brendan




Post 81

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 9:46amSanction this postReply
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Hi Nathan,
But isn't an elemental fact which is "not logically justifiable" precisely why we axiomatize something?
Again, I'm pretty sure you're using "axiom" differently from how other Objectivists are using it.

My point, though, is that falsification is not likely something recently employed or discovered. It's inherent in the nature of induction and has been, I suspect, used since the very first time induction was employed by a conscious entity.
Corroborate your theory with historical examples.
I'm trying to imagine life for a consciousness where only the first was possible but not the second. Where one could only FORM hypotheses but never dismiss them.
Over the centuries, people have survived with unfalsifiable superstition and rationalism.

Jordan




Post 82

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 2:10pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan:

But isn't an elemental fact which is "not logically justifiable" precisely why we axiomatize something?
Again, I'm pretty sure you're using "axiom" differently from how other Objectivists are using it.

That much is clear, but not in these regards. One cannot logically justify Rand's axioms, but they are self-evident and thus axiomatized. But I think that's been covered enough for now.



My point, though, is that falsification is not likely something recently employed or discovered. It's inherent in the nature of induction and has been, I suspect, used since the very first time induction was employed by a conscious entity.

 
Corroborate your theory with historical examples.

LOL You wish me to offer examples of how the first conscious entity employed induction? OK, let me get out my time machine and mind scanner... [Rummages through closet...]

Something easily overlooked in this discussion is that induction is not just a conscious intellectual process by which we form explicit hypotheses. It is, instead, inherent in the nature of all thought.

Pattern recognition, for example, one of the most primitive levels of thought, entails induction. Most of it is perceptual and unconscious. Nevertheless, a pattern recognizer works by testing perceived order of some sort as to a possible classification, the equivalent of inducing from a portion of the data the identity of the whole. Falsification is integral to this. A pattern recognizer is in essense an induction (with some deduction) machine.

I'm trying to imagine life for a consciousness where only the first was possible but not the second. Where one could only FORM hypotheses but never dismiss them.
Over the centuries, people have survived with unfalsifiable superstition and rationalism.
Again, I think it is a mistake to limit either induction or deduction to conscious higher belief. Both are pervasive in and essential to thought processes. 

That humans can survive SOME unfalsified incorrect belief does not speak to the nature of a consciousness which could never change its mind at any level.

A very simple example:

Imagine a homo erectus who forms a hypothesis about an animal carcass he's hidden in a cave. He goes back the next day to eat meat from this carcass, and the next, based upon the hypothesis that if he PLACED the meat in the cave, and that if it's there the next day, it will probably be there the third. But a scavenger has discovered it and dragged it off. It is missing.

If that homo erectus were unable to falsify a hypothesis about the persistence of a particular, he should believe the meat is still in the cave, though his senses tell him otherwise. But he does falsify his operating hypothesis, just as he has tested and corroborated or falsified millions of conscious and unconscious hypotheses since the day he was born, all integral to the nature of being a conscious entity.

He had no need, for any of those inductive processes, including the meat in the cave, to consciously think, 'Here is my belief and I will change it when it is falsified.' He simply DOES this. It is part and parcel of the inductive process.

It is fitting that we explicitly recognize and deliberately employ that process today in science, but it was hardly invented by some philosopher.

Nathan Hawking




Post 83

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
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Brendan:

Nathan: “”Irreducible,” as I'm using it, does not mean that order MUST exist, but simply that it has no components, that order is a metaphysical fact which is not comprised of other metaphysical facts.”

The necessity I’m referring to is logical necessity. If you’re trying to use a logical truth to say something about the world, the necessity of the statement carries over into any empirical claims about the world. That is, if there is such an axiom as “order exists”, and it has empirical implications, the truth of the statement necessarily applies across the board to everything in the world.

 

As Jordan noted, I think it's becoming clear that I'm using "axiom" differently than Rand. Most use that term as I use it, a true and irreducible statement which describes a foundational fact.

 

For example, Euclid's 5th axiom or postulate about parallel lines describes a condition which CAN exist (parallelness), not a condition which MUST exist.

So if you’re going to use a logical truth as an inductive principle, there cannot be any exceptions, such as “probability” and “disorder”.

That's simply untrue. Logical systems OFTEN axiomatize something which can be true in particular instances but does not HAVE to be true. The example of Euclidean geometry is just one of countless.

If you are going to allow for exceptions, then “order exists” begins to sounds very much like “the universe exhibits order”, in which case your inductive principle is an empirical statement, with its attendant question-begging implications.

Didn't we discuss this already? If that's a flaw, then "existence exists" suffers from exactly the same flaw. 

As for your claim that all logic proceeds from assumptions, this is at best a half-truth.

Point to one instance where it is untrue.

A good many “inductive” style arguments also proceed from observation. Here’s one: I have seen a hundred crows, and they have all been black. If you want to base an argument about the way the world works on an assumption, go to it, but in that case the conclusion must be consistent with the assumption.

I've pointed out many times in this thread where some of the assumptions in this thinking form lie. I believe that with some thought, you can spot them as well, if you wish. But I'd rather not repeat myself yet again.

 

Nathan Hawking

 


 




Post 84

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 3:10pmSanction this postReply
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Hiya Nathan,
You wish me to offer examples of how the first conscious entity employed induction?
Oh no. I want you to provide examples of falsification that occurred before Popper. If you show that falsification was common (and deliberate?) before Popper, then you will have shown that Popper is hardly original when he introduces falsification to us. You've offered the example of the caveman who relies on past experience to determine whether his meat is still in a cave. You argue that caveman's theory of "meat will be in cave" (as formed from seeing the meat in cave, day after day after day) is falsified when he checks and finds out that his meat is gone. Accepting this hypo as historical, I think you've made your case, but only to a point. Here's why:

It's one thing to (falsifiably) predict that the meat will be in the cave. It's quite another to (falsifiably) predict why the meat will be in the cave. Everytime we theorize about why, we're looking for causes. No cause is directly observable; all causes must be inferred. I can accept that, before Popper, allowing falsification that a pattern existed was quite common, but I'm not yet convinced that allowing falsification for why a pattern existed was as common. I'm pressed for time, and I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but that's what's on my mind.

-Jordan




Post 85

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 4:32pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan,
This is an interesting statement, since it superficially seems to be patently false.

"No cause is directly observable; all causes must be inferred"
 
When I observe that a nail I just hit with a hammer is driven into the wood and someone (who wasn't watching me at the time) ten seconds  later asks me how the nail was caused to be in the wood and I reply: it was caused by my striking it with this hammer you see --  what relevant causes did I not observe? The electronic bonds in the material of the hammer and the nail? The ratcheting of my muscle proteins?

I have to think you have something interesting in mind,  here.

(Edited by Jeff Perren on 6/08, 4:33pm)




Post 86

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:09pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan:


You wish me to offer examples of how the first conscious entity employed induction?
Oh no. I want you to provide examples of falsification that occurred before Popper. If you show that falsification was common (and deliberate?) before Popper, then you will have shown that Popper is hardly original when he introduces falsification to us.

I'm not a historian, and have never read history with this issue in mind. Others are doubtless better equipped than I to give historical examples. But I cite Newton and my dog below. Neither of them had heard of Popper, so far as I know. LOL
You've offered the example of the caveman who relies on past experience to determine whether his meat is still in a cave. You argue that caveman's theory of "meat will be in cave" (as formed from seeing the meat in cave, day after day after day) is falsified when he checks and finds out that his meat is gone. Accepting this hypo as historical, I think you've made your case, but only to a point. Here's why:

It's one thing to (falsifiably) predict that the meat will be in the cave. It's quite another to (falsifiably) predict why the meat will be in the cave. Everytime we theorize about why, we're looking for causes. No cause is directly observable; all causes must be inferred.
But induction is not about why things happen--only that they do. Induction is about a general belief based upon limited observations--irrespective of causes.

Induction: The sun has come up every day in all of recorded history, therefore it will likely come up tomorrow.

Deduction: The Earth rotates on its axis. Rotation makes the sun appear on the horizon every 24 hours. Therefore, if the Earth rotates tomorrow, the sun will come up tomorrow.
I can accept that, before Popper, allowing falsification that a pattern existed was quite common, but I'm not yet convinced that allowing falsification for why a pattern existed was as common.
But the why would not be induction. Usually, that would be a deductive process (though it will inevitably entail induction).

Induction: When objects are released, they fall to the ground.

Deduction: Any two objects which possess mass attract each other with a force proportional to the product of their masses. The Earth and moon have mass. Therefore the Earth and moon have a force between them which is proportional to the product of their masses.

But even here, we note the first premise of the deduction is based entirely upon induction. Ultimately, all propositions about causes are inductive.

Newton observed the motion of heavenly bodies and the behavior of gravity on Earth, and united the two into a universal theory of gravitation. He didn't know the cause of gravity, nor could he ever prove that those laws applied everywhere. But he proceeded as if they did.

It's probably safe to say that Newton, had he found any instances where observation contradicted his theory, would not have advanced it. As a theory of universal law, he would have considered it falsified.

As an additional example, I wrote in in another thread:
I wrote this awhile back, on animal thinking:
 
"Even as a boy, I wondered what dogs were thinking. I used throw a ball a few times, getting the dog to fetch. Then I would PRETEND to throw, and the dog would bolt in the direction of the pretended throw, clearly believing the ball had left my hand.

"If this were purely instinctual, the dog would have repeated this behavior until doomsday. But after awhile she began to wise up, obviously concluding that the ball had NOT left my hand--changing her BELIEF--and refusing to expend the energy until she had more evidence of an actual throw."

Clearly this is more than "perceptual" thinking, in the minimalistic sense of that word. The dog is reasoning inductively from a PATTERN of arm movements which result in a ball landing some distance away, and acts upon that reasoning.

The dog is also able to quickly FALSIFY that reasoning when counterexamples occur, reasoning from just a few these to, in effect, 'I'm not going to bother unless I actually see the ball leave his hand or hear the ball land.'

As I say, falsification is pervasive in inductive thinking. Even animals falsify beliefs they have when presented with contrary evidence.

Irene Pepperberg's parrot Alex not only changes his belief when objects do not appear as he expects, but he apparently gets downright annoyed.

And all this quite independent of causes.

Nathan Hawking





Post 87

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:09pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

Since the mind-body problem and related issues in philosophy and psychology are my forte, allow me to chip in here.

Evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists/cognitive scientists, on the basis of brain scans, believe that the inference of cause and effect from collisions is hardwired into the brain.  Therefore, those examples of cause and effect affect the mind as if they were directly perceived.

However, I agree with Jordan's general point, first established by Hume: you cannot perceive causation.  This claim from Hume revolutionized modern science in a variety of ways. And Hume understood surprisingly well some of the consequences of his claim for human psychology.

This claim is the basis of magic, ventriloquism, movies, TV and special effects.There is a lot more I could add here,but I think the point is fairly well established.

If a person understands this point from Hume, then the person appreciates the importance and genius of Popper's falsification process even more.  Because in the end, what we tend to do is understand/identify efficient and proximate causes. 

When I asked Daniel about what he thought scientists were doing before Popper arrived on the scene, I was hoping he would make this clear - that Popper believed that repeating experiments has a falsificatory element that inductivists misinterpret as being confirmatory.

For an example of a false insight into causality, I know that my thoughts cause my hand to move, but that cannot be the whole story, because sometimes, when I'm sleepy, I order my hand to move, but it doesn't. My thoughts might necessary causes, but their sufficiency is in serious doubt.Yet I will always speak casually as if my thoughts were the necessary and sufficient causes for my moving my hand.

Laj.

(Edited by Abolaji Ogunshola on 6/08, 7:16pm)




Post 88

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 7:36pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff:

Jordan,

This is an interesting statement, since it superficially seems to be patently false.

"No cause is directly observable; all causes must be inferred"
I think we may be getting back into "direct perception" territory with this one. Not to mention the rather large topic of causation.

Either of these might be worth their own thread.
When I observe that a nail I just hit with a hammer is driven into the wood and someone (who wasn't watching me at the time) ten seconds  later asks me how the nail was caused to be in the wood and I reply: it was caused by my striking it with this hammer you see --  what relevant causes did I not observe? The electronic bonds in the material of the hammer and the nail? The ratcheting of my muscle proteins?
I suspect the inference part lies in the fact that we cannot be certain if an event IS occurring exactly as we perceive it. At best, we can reason, more or less, that:
  • IFF X things are as they appear to be and
  • IFF X things cause Y and
  • IFF X has happened in close temporal and spatial proximity to Y
  • THEN X probably caused Y.
Absent close spatial and/or temporal proximity, we are less certain that an intervening cause was not responsible.

Of course, what are the odds that something else caused the nail to go into the wood? Well, they are extremely small in practice, but they are not equal to zero.

Nathan Hawking




Post 89

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:01pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Jeff,

Laj took up the slack for me. I took my point from Hume. I'll leave Laj to defend it, although I don't know whether I'll agree with him.

Nathan,
But induction is not about why things happen--only that they do. Induction is about a general belief based upon limited observations--irrespective of causes.
erm...So what's your method, if not induction, for identifying causes? I think plenty of causal theories have emerged from induction (and of course, many have fallen by way of falsification).

Like I said, I'm comfortable accepting that falsification has been around since before Popper to show that some pattern does or doesn't exist, and I completely agree with you that animals engage in such falsification. But I'm not ready to accept that falsification has been around since before Popper to show why some pattern does or doesn't exist.

Remember that throughout history, people have attributed many causes for why the sun traversed the sky. The Egyptians figured that some big scarabs were pushing the sun. The Greeks figured that the sun was a god or something being pulled by some big horses. (I might've botched the particulars of the theories here, but you get my point.) They all observed that the sun traversed the sky, but they often misidentified why it did so.  

It's an interesting question to me why we care about identifying causes in the first place. Why not just settle for correlations? But I'll leave that for another time. For now, my point is just that causal theory usually emerges inductively.

Jordan




Post 90

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:23pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan:


But induction is not about why things happen--only that they do. Induction is about a general belief based upon limited observations--irrespective of causes.
So what's your method, if not induction, for identifying causes? I think plenty of causal theories have emerged from induction (and of course, many have fallen by way of falsification).

...
It's an interesting question to me why we care about identifying causes in the first place. Why not just settle for correlations? But I'll leave that for another time. For now, my point is just that causal theory usually emerges inductively.
If you'll reread the portion in my last post about Newton, you'll note that I agree.

But that doesn't change the fact that the subject of induction is only order, not argument from cause per se.

When we get to positing causes, we're into using deduction (which, of course, ultimately depends upon induction). It doesn't pay to get too silly and reductionistic about deduction/induction, since in the real world neither works without the other.

Nathan Hawking




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Post 91

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 8:26pmSanction this postReply
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All,
I was going to write something calm and scholarly but I'm too tired, so I'll save that for later.
For now, I'll just go with my gut, which is almost never wrong.

Gentleman, this is insanity.

You are actually willing to believe that some highly sophisticated theories of epistemology are likely to be correct,
but are unwilling to accept that saying 'my striking the nail with the hammer was the cause of the nail's penetration of the wood' is logically, inductively justified?





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Post 92

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 9:23pmSanction this postReply
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Of course, what are the odds that something else caused the nail to go into the wood? Well, they are extremely small in practice, but they are not equal to zero.
Uh, yes, they are zero. It IS the hammer causing the nail to go into the wood. It isn't my deceased grandmother. Insanity is too nice of a word for not accepting the obviously perceived. Jeff is being too nice. A better word is skepticism.

If an 80,000-pound Mack truck runs a red light and smashes into Hillary Clinton, and her guts are sprayed far and wide through Greenwich Village, then I can say with perfect certainty that the glorious occurrence did, in fact, occur and that it was not caused by a tornado in Topeka, Kansas. (She did not spontaneously explode the instant before the truck stuck her, because that would surely have occurred the day the blue dress with the cum stain came out of the closet.)

And, Robert, I know you are too smart to have missed the fact that if you can't say with certainty that the hammer drove the nail into the wood, then you also cannot discuss probability with the statement that the odds "are extremely small in practice." If you're going to throw out reality, the baby's got to go with it.




Post 93

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 9:33pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

All I'm saying is that when you use your striking a nail as an example of perceived cause-and-effect relationship, scientists have evidence that the human brain is structured to stipulate such a collision as a perceived cause-and-effect relationship.  However, if you believe that you are perceiving the relationship with your senses(as opposed to intellectually apprehending it) feel free to point to the cause. Now, in the specific case of the hammer and the nail, I would agree with you, but not necessarily because of induction. Falsification/testability produces the same result - there is no reason to reject the belief.  There is nothing about repetition that confirms your view.

However, children often infer the existence of Santa Claus from certain kinds of evidence.  Eventually, such beliefs get falsified by a wider frame of reference.

Generally speaking, adducing a causal explanation for a phenomenon is an intellectual affair. This is not a highly sophisticated epistemological theory, IMO.  It is simply a good and empirically testable (and tested) view of how the mind works.

Cheers,

Laj.




Post 94

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 11:19pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff:
>Gentleman, this is insanity. You are actually willing to believe that some highly sophisticated theories of epistemology are likely to be correct,
but are unwilling to accept that saying 'my striking the nail with the hammer was the cause of the nail's penetration of the wood' is logically, inductively justified?

Hi Jeff

I mean to get back to you & Nathan shortly on this issue but am tied up for a few days (Jordan, I'll post the ITOE piece in a while too). I see from a quick skim some of the other guys have covered a few issues for me anyway.

But I couldn't resist commenting on this briefly.

Given that induction is basically the theory the more something happened in the past, the more likely it is to happen in the future, what, exactly, is "inductive" about you striking a nail with a hammer into a piece of wood?

Do you think the more times you observed yourself doing it, the more likely it would be that you *were* doing it? So after 1000 blows you were far more convinced that the cause of the nail's progress through the wood was in fact yourself than you were after *just one* blow - which is of course very inductively dubious? And what about *before the first blow was ever struck?* Could you not know what the cause might be, because *you had not yet observed it - not even once*? Tell me, how many blows *did* it inductively take to identify this fact of reality?

This, gentlemen, is insanity...;-)

- Daniel





Post 95

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 12:32amSanction this postReply
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Jeff wrote:

Gentleman, this is insanity.

You are actually willing to believe that some highly sophisticated theories of epistemology are likely to be correct, but are unwilling to accept that saying 'my striking the nail with the hammer was the cause of the nail's penetration of the wood' is logically, inductively justified?


 David wrote:
Of course, what are the odds that something else caused the nail to go into the wood? Well, they are extremely small in practice, but they are not equal to zero.
Uh, yes, they are zero. It IS the hammer causing the nail to go into the wood. It isn't my deceased grandmother. Insanity is too nice of a word for not accepting the obviously perceived. Jeff is being too nice. A better word is skepticism.

 

No, the odds are not zero, nor are the alternatives insane.

Imagine the following scenario:


You walk into a pool hall. On the table is a cue ball and a 7-ball. At the table is a fat man from Minnesota, drawing his stick back on the cue ball. He calls side pocket. It's a straight shot for Fats, one he'd never miss.

Joe Highroller, your gambling archnemesis, staggers up reeking of expensive booze, and says, "I'll give ya 5 to 1 Fats doesn't put the 7 in the pocket."

"I'm not stupid, Joe," you say. He's obvious paid Fats to throw it and set you up.

"Gutless?" Joe says. Fats' cue thrusts forward and the ball winds up in the pocket. 

Joe slumps into a chair and says, "I'll shtill lay ya 5 to 1," then his head slumps to the table. You look at his goons and they just shrug.

"You heard him say it?" you ask, sensing your chance to recoup your losses to this shark. They nod. "OK," you say, "I'll lay TEN LARGE on that." Finally this bastard will get his comeuppance.

Joe Highroller suddenly stands up and declares, in a disconcertingly sober voice, "You loser, sucker. Pay up."  

"The hell you say! I saw Fats sink the ball."

"You only think you did." He takes you by the arm and leads you to the table. Up close, you see nearly-invisible wires attached to Fats' stick, and to the balls, and begin to smell a rat. "Fats never touched the cue ball, and the cue ball never touched the 7-ball. It was all done with wires to restrain the movement of the stick, and to move and stop the other balls. They never came within a twentieth of an inch of each other."

"Bullshit. I heard them."

"Oh, that," Joe says. "Well, what you probably heard was this." He pulls a small remote control from his pocket and presses a button, and you hear a thud, clack and plop. "We rigged this to go off when Fats moved his stick to the end of the wire."

"You sonofabitch." You've been had. But a deal's a deal, and you ask if he'll take your marker.

He agrees as he slaps on expensive booze like aftershave and laughs.



What are the odds that I snuck into Jeff's garage and rigged a trick nail and hammer? Extremely unlikely.

But I will tell you that I've done things very nearly this evil to unsuspecting victims and led them to believe some rather odd things. [Cackles, and wrings hands evilly.] Perhaps I'll discuss this on another occasion.

[Exploding Hillary fantasy snipped.]
And, Robert, I know you are too smart to have missed the fact that if you can't say with certainty that the hammer drove the nail into the wood, then you also cannot discuss probability with the statement that the odds "are extremely small in practice." If you're going to throw out reality, the baby's got to go with it.

Look, gentlemen. The likelihood of my striking a nail with a hammer and the nail going into the wood not being cause and effect are VIRTUALLY nil. But they are not nil. They are something like 99.999999999999999999999999999999999% give or take a whole lot of 9s. You would need omniscience to declare them 100%, and few I know qualify.

Are you really telling me you actually need that pathetic little .00000000000000000000000000000000000001% give or take a whole lot of zeroes before you can be comfortable with reality? If so, I'd say that's damned insecure. LOL

Here's the thing. When we get away from those many things which are nearly 100% for all practical purposes, things can become a bit fuzzier.

You were seen running from Joe Highroller's house, and picked up with the murder weapon - so you killed him, right? You had motive and opportunity, so you whacked him to get your marker back. The problem is, you didn't. You were framed. (I won't bother to invent a scenario. Your attorney will do that for a jury, who will find you innocent on reasonable doubt. But nowhere near 100%.)

Scenarios like this don't have nearly as many nines in the numbers. Nor do many scientific theories.

Nobdody's throwing out reason or any baby with the bathwater, nor invalidating the efficacy of anyone's mind, nor making insane claims. Those are purely hysterical reactions.  Either nature permits that 100% or it doesn't. If it doesn't, we need to get over it.

I'm sure this subject will arise again.

Nathan Hawking




Post 96

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 2:39amSanction this postReply
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Jeff: ‘You are actually willing to believe that some highly sophisticated theories of epistemology are likely to be correct, but are unwilling to accept that saying 'my striking the nail with the hammer was the cause of the nail's penetration of the wood' is logically, inductively justified?”

I don’t know what induction has to do with this one-off event, Jeff, but you’re misunderstanding the issue. Jordan said “No cause is directly observable”, while Laj said “you cannot perceive causation”.

I don’t think anyone’s unwilling to accept your statement about causation, but in the above event what do we perceive? We perceive a hammer hitting a nail. We do not perceive a “cause” and an “effect”. If we did, you could easily describe just what a cause and an effect look like.

Brendan




Post 97

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 7:51amSanction this postReply
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Nathan,
When we get to positing causes, we're into using deduction
So you think people deductively surmise causes?

Jordan




Post 98

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 1:55pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan:

When we get to positing causes, we're into using deduction
So you think people deductively surmise causes?



 
At the crudest level, probably not.

"X always follows Y, therefore Y causes X" is probably the simplest form of statement about causality, and it is entirely inductive. But it only speaks to the what, and says nothing about the why. (The subject you raised.)

We must distinguish between what statements about proximity of sequence and why statements explaining causal mechanisms. The former are inductive and the latter entail more deductive reasoning. Example:
  • "Screaming at the neighborhood children causes my windows to break."

    Versus:
  • "Screaming at the children angers them. Angry children are sometimes vindictive and vandalous. My broken windows are probably their acts of vandalism."
Both are statements about screaming as the "cause" of broken windows. But clearly the more substantive one is that which posits a chain of deduction as to actual causal mechanism, not just a sequence.

Nathan Hawking




Post 99

Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
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Nathan,

  • Screaming at the children angers them. Angry children are sometimes vindictive and vandalous. My broken windows are probably their acts of vandalism."

  • Both are statements about screaming as the "cause" of broken windows. But clearly the more substantive one is that which posits a chain of deduction as to actual causal mechanism, not just a sequence
  • I don't see a deductive chain in either example. Are you sure you want to be talking about deduction here?

    Jordan




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