1

# probability

Thu 23 Jul, 2009 11:11 am
I say most people think of probability as being very intuitive. In a way, they are right. The subject is build up from very intuitive axioms. It is very applicable to business, and engineering etc. If you look at it from a technical level. That is, at the level of how the world works( physics), and the long philosophical questions on it, it is not easy at all. To see this, look at physics and philosophical problems on probability.

When the initial founders of the subject( fermat, bernoulli etc) look at the problem. They had in mind gambling, or the drop of a die. The die has 6 sides. Which sides does the die land? To them, this is a probability problem. In reality, this is a deterministic problem. The laws of classical mechanics could conceivable give us the answer given that we know all the environment variables( e.g: initial velocity, angle, height, etc..). So, probability is largely used to represent our state of ignorance to the initial, and environment variables of the physical system. This is why it is sort of weird that the dynamic laws of quantum mechanics is probabilistic. It is completely "new". It seems like the probability in QM is not an expression of our ignorance of the physical system, but a property of the quantum system it self. There is a "ontological" significance to probability in QM. While the issue in Classical mechanics is largely epistemic. The big question is if there really is De re probability. ( de re means object).
• Topic Stats
• Top Replies
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,074 • Replies: 18
No top replies

prothero

1
Tue 28 Jul, 2009 08:48 pm
@vectorcube,
I would say it is impossible given the current state of knowledge to "know" if the universe is deterministic or probablistic (ordered possibility).

I think the probablistic nature of QM and other small scale processes is ontologic not epistomolgic. I know one can not show a direct connection but a probablistic universe seems friendlier to other important concepts" free will, moral responsiblity, creativity and even notions of "god".

I think one could dwell on coin tossing, rolling dice and drawing cards a little more because in the "real" world the "results" are an almost perfect probablity distribution. Even something seemingly as deterministic as a coin toss gives a probablistic result. Thats no accident.:detective:
vectorcube

1
Thu 30 Jul, 2009 11:27 pm
@prothero,
prothero;80096 wrote:
I would say it is impossible given the current state of knowledge to "know" if the universe is deterministic or probablistic (ordered possibility).

I disagree. I think there are convincing evidence to the latter possibility. This is largely due to quantum mechanics. In QM, a particle is not in any particular place before a measurement. If it is, then bell` s theorm shows that there are implication which can lead to experimental consequence. This is not so. Therefore, it is incorrect to say particle is anywhere before an observation.
0 Replies

Moe ME

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 01:54 am
@vectorcube,
Is is unreasonable to say that if one could "know" the exact circumstances of the origin of the universe, and posses infinite knowledge of the forces acting on all particles, that he could predict such things like the behavior on a subatomic particle with accuracy greater than what could be calculated using probability?
richrf

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 08:58 am
@Moe ME,
My feeling is that if someone can be comfortable with uncertainty and with the concept of Free Will, that a probabilistic universe, that manifests itself in quantum theory, is fine.

Einstein was never comfortable: "God does not play dice". I am. I like the idea of being able to create something totally new - as opposed to something that is pre-determined.

My own feeling is that consciousness/mind does effect the way things are, and is fundamental to the probabilistic nature of the universe. It's nice to think that we are not just billiard balls, but can seek new direction if we are aware of something and want to change.

"If you don't change direction, you will end up where you are headed." [Chinese proverb]

Rich
0 Replies

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:15 am
@vectorcube,
how lucky do u feel right now?
richrf

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:42 am
how lucky do u feel right now?

Hi there,

I never feel lucky. It is strange, but I have observed in my life, things just come as they may, and it makes sense afterwards. Sometimes stuff that makes life easier, sometimes stuff that makes it much more difficult. But all of it teaches me something. So I let the Universe deliver what it will. My thought is that the Universe delivers what you need not what you want.

Rich
0 Replies

Alan McDougall

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:47 am
@vectorcube,
We live and rely on probability even at the quantum level that operates in uncertaincy. Out electronic devises work on the probability that a certain state would exist for at least 50% of the time
richrf

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:49 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;81915 wrote:
We live and rely on probability even at the quantum level that operates in uncertaincy. Out electronic devises work on the probability that a certain state would exist for at least 50% of the time

Hi Alan,

It depends upon the brand. Some of the junk I am buying nowadays seems to have a far less probability of working than 50%. Especially when the warranty expires.

Rich
Alan McDougall

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 11:12 am
@richrf,
richrf;81917 wrote:
Hi Alan,

It depends upon the brand. Some of the junk I am buying nowadays seems to have a far less probability of working than 50%. Especially when the warranty expires.

Rich

Hi Rich

My comment was not related to quality of manufacture but the quantum probability that a certain state will come about in a certain amount of time
vectorcube

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:40 pm
@Moe ME,
Moe M.E.;81864 wrote:
Is is unreasonable to say that if one could "know" the exact circumstances of the origin of the universe, and posses infinite knowledge of the forces acting on all particles, that he could predict such things like the behavior on a subatomic particle with accuracy greater than what could be calculated using probability?

no. Not with any theory with QM.

---------- Post added 08-08-2009 at 11:42 PM ----------

richrf;81903 wrote:

Einstein was never comfortable: "God does not play dice". I am. I like the idea of being able to create something totally new - as opposed to something that is pre-determined.
Rich

Fine, but why do you demand that from QM? Why should QM be the source of free will.
richrf

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:46 pm
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;82008 wrote:
Fine, but what do you demand that from QM? Why should QM be the source of free will.

The nice thing about Quantum Mechanics, is that no one knows what the heck the equations are describing. A probabilistic theory is very conducive to the concept of free will. Certainly doesn't preclude it.

Rich
vectorcube

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 10:57 pm
@richrf,
richrf;82010 wrote:
A probabilistic theory is very conducive to the concept of free will.
Rich

Why? What possible connection is there between QM and free will?
richrf

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 11:18 pm
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;82014 wrote:
Why? What possible connection is there between QM and free will?

Maybe some, maybe none. No one knows.

Rich
vectorcube

1
Sat 8 Aug, 2009 11:32 pm
@richrf,
richrf;82010 wrote:
The nice thing about Quantum Mechanics, is that no one knows what the heck the equations are describing. A probabilistic theory is very conducive to the concept of free will. Certainly doesn't preclude it.

Rich

richrf;82019 wrote:
Maybe some, maybe none. No one knows.

Rich

I agree. There might be connections, but i am incline to think that we ought to withhold judgements in this matter.
Joe

1
Sun 9 Aug, 2009 02:12 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;82025 wrote:
I agree. There might be connections, but i am incline to think that we ought to withhold judgements in this matter.

I dont like the sound of that. lol. I think we need more judgement in this area ASAP.
0 Replies

memester

1
Sun 27 Sep, 2009 10:31 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Quote:

My comment was not related to quality of manufacture but the quantum probability that a certain state will come about in a certain amount of time
The probability of the state of broken-ness , for some unkown reason, is very great the day after the warranty expires
0 Replies

Absolution phil

1
Sun 27 Sep, 2009 11:23 pm
@vectorcube,
Being a Biophysicist, I work in the regime between quantum and classical mechanics all of the time. First of all, I must say I view physics as an abstraction. I don't think it completely defines reality, it just does enough to convince ourselves. And just because it convinces ourselves it doesn't mean nature obeys.

Now I don't mind discussing between free will and Einstein's god that doesn't play dice. So if reality was completely deterministic, god would only need to know the initial state of everything and what laws they obey to know entirely everything about the universe. So to human understanding that would justify an omniscient god. But this kind of omniscient god would know what everyone does before they do it and exactly on creation, so it could be said that god created people to do exactly what they do and they have no free will as everything is already determined.

To break that is to introduce a randomness, or a chaos to an extent. And in ways quantum mechanics can do it. One of the postulates is that you can have many duplicate systems starting from the same initial conditions and obeying the same laws and they will yield different measurements under a probability distribution. So in this way nature and the universe cannot be determined and has a bit of chaos that god would not know before hand every move of each person and thus resulting in a type of free will.

Now this chaos only seems to come about once one makes a measurement, or tries observing that it is there. The wave function of particles do not collapse unless you measure them. So it could be that nature is deterministic as waves until we try to meddle in things and measure it lol. But remember folks, quantum is not the end all and be all, despite the early rough reception of string theory it is getting bigger and on the verge of having predictable results.

And finally I agree with vectorcube that we should omit judgements on the matter, as obviously it is required of us to make glaring assumptions both on the scientific side and theology side to get any of it to remotely work.
0 Replies

jeeprs

1
Tue 29 Sep, 2009 04:52 am
@vectorcube,
seems to me that reality-as-lived is neither completely determined or totally random. Looking at the human situation, we are always constrained in some respects, but within those constraints there is some freedom. Also natural systems of all kinds are unpredictable because there are too many interacting variables to predict any particular outcome. (I think this is what chaos theory is about isn't it?) But we do know that patterns emerge, which again seems to imply a balance between randomness and predictability.

As for whether sub-atomic particles exist, I think this very much depends on what you mean by the word 'exist'. It could be argued that these particles don't actually exist, but merely have a tendency to exist within specific contexts. I would argue that a criteria of something exists is that it has an identity - it is 'this instance' and not 'that instance'. I think I have heard it said that in fact all electrons are totally indistinguishable - that there is, in a sense, only one electron. (Generally no-one will like to admit that, because it is a bit of what we used to call back in the sixties 'a freak out'.)
0 Replies

### Related Topics

How can we be sure? - Discussion by Raishu-tensho
Proof of nonexistence of free will - Discussion by litewave
morals and ethics, how are they different? - Question by existential potential
Destroy My Belief System, Please! - Discussion by Thomas
Star Wars in Philosophy. - Discussion by Logicus
Existence of Everything. - Discussion by Logicus
Is it better to be feared or loved? - Discussion by Black King

1. Forums
2. » probability