ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 10:27 am
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:
Well, if you gave an argument for it, I missed it.
I assume that you're using a conventional definition of free will; something like "an agent has free will on occasions when that agent makes and acts on a choice from amongst realisable alternatives".
ughaibu wrote:
Any scientist wishing to perform an experiment needs to assume that it is possible for them to design and implement that experiment, and in addition to deal with unforeseen difficulties as they arise, interpret the results, etc. In short, they have to assume the reality of free will.
Huxley wrote:
A second question, which experiments purport to refute free will?
It doesn't matter.
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 10:35 am
@ughaibu,
Sure, I can go with that definition. Using that definition, however, I'm not sure I understand your argument connecting it to the doing of science in any case. Do you mind rephrasing your argument?
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 10:37 am
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:
Do you mind rephrasing your argument?
I dont see where the leeway for not understanding is. The statement is short and unambiguous. Unless you tell me what you dont understand about it, I have no idea how it could be made clearer.
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 10:52 am
@ughaibu,
Sure, I can try. I'll take your first post as the one I'm not grasping, since I think this is where you articulated your argument.

ughaibu wrote:

Any scientist wishing to perform an experiment, which could cast doubt on the reality of free will, needs to assume that it is possible for them to design and implement that experiment, and in addition to deal with unforeseen difficulties as they arise, interpret the results, etc.


When I read this, I only see a statement. I understand that you think that an experimenter needs to assume free will, but I don't understand why it is that you think this. Your next sentence:

Quote:

In short, they have to assume the reality of free will.


Is a condensation of the previous statement. So, it isn't a separate statement meant to support your first assertion, it's just a simpler way of saying the same thing.

This:

Quote:

Any interpretation of the results, of such an experiment, needs to account for the success of the experiment as a confirmation of the free will of the experimenter, regardless of any other results.


Is a conclusion derived from your assertion.


So, when I read the above, while you may see an argument, or have an argument backing this up that I'm just not reading, what I read is an assertion, that same assertion condensed, and a derived result of this assertion. What I do not see is an argument for this assertion, and it is this assertion that I'm trying to understand why you think is so (which would require an argument).
ughaibu
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 11:11 am
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:
I understand that you think that an experimenter needs to assume free will, but I don't understand why it is that you think this.
1) an agent has free will on occasions when that agent makes and acts on a conscious choice from amongst realisable alternatives
2) scientific experiments are designed consciously
3) scientific experiments are performed consciously
4) there are alternative ways to design and perform scientific experiments and to deal with unforeseen difficulties which arise and an alternative must be chosen
5) any scientist planning to perform an experiment assumes that they can design and perform that experiment and deal with any unforeseen difficulties which might arise
6) therefore any scientist planning an experiment assumes the reality of free will
7) if a scientist successfully designs and performs an experiment, then that scientist has confirmed the reliability of the assumption of the reality of free will
8) if the result of an experiment appears to evince a lack of free will, then there is a contradiction with the fact that the same experiment confirms the assumption that free will is real.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 01:57 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:

ughaibu wrote:

Huxley wrote:


A second question, which experiments purport to refute free will?


Well, I suppose that if someone believed that he was doing something of his own free will, like eating grapefruit, and if it turned out that he was eating grapefruit under post-hypnotic suggestion, but that he really hated grapefruit, I guess that would refute the proposition that the person was eating grapefruit of his own free will. Wouldn't it?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 05:02 pm
I thought it was David Hume who cast doubt on the logical necessity of causal relations: " “there are no ideas, which occur in metaphysics, more obscure and uncertain, than those of power, force, energy or necessary connexion” (EHU, 61-2). I suppose in saying this, he has ideas like 'telos' very much in his sights.

Hume argues that causation can be conceived mainly in terms of the particular objects that are generally conjoined in experience. So he is arguing (as I understand it) that causality is something that we know from experience; it does not have an a priori foundation in any metaphysical sense. In fact, this is where Hume cast doubt on what had previously been understood as the foundation of reason itself; whereas the rationalists believed that casual relations could be understood a priori and deductively, Hume argued that they could only be understood a posteriori and inductively.

kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 05:24 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

I thought it was David Hume who cast doubt on the logical necessity of causal relations: " “there are no ideas, which occur in metaphysics, more obscure and uncertain, than those of power, force, energy or necessary connexion” (EHU, 61-2). I suppose in saying this, he has ideas like 'telos' very much in his sights.

Hume argues that causation can be conceived mainly in terms of the particular objects that are generally conjoined in experience. So he is arguing (as I understand it) that causality is something that we know from experience; it does not have an a priori foundation in any metaphysical sense. In fact, this is where Hume cast doubt on what had previously been understood as the foundation of reason itself; whereas the rationalists believed that casual relations could be understood a priori and deductively, Hume argued that they could only be understood a posteriori and inductively.




It is clearly not a necessary truth that lowering the temperature of water to zero degrees Celsius will cause the water to freeze, since the negation of that statement is not a contradiction. And if that was all that Hume meant, he was certainly right. On the other hand, it is just as clear that it isn't accidental that lowering the temperature of water to zero degrees Celsius will cause the water to freeze. There seems to be a plot there. So if it is not a necessary truth that lowering the temperature of water to zero degrees Celsius will cause the water to freeze, but neither is it an accident, then the question is, what sort of truth is it? It seems to express, although not a logical necessity, a causal necessity. Of course, that is just giving the problem a name, since the next question is, what kind of necessity is a causal necessity? And attempting to answer that is a job for Analytic Philosopher!
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 05:32 pm
@kennethamy,
But isn't this the basis for Hume's skepticism, and the reason why Russell believed that it posed such a threat to the intellectual integrity of science? He wrote that if Hume was correct 'every attempt to arrive at general scientific laws from particular observations is fallacious', and 'the rejection of induction makes all expectations as to the future irrational', concluding that it was 'a desparate point of view, and it must be hoped that there is some way of escaping from it'. (HoWP) When people question the nature of causation, isn't this the background to it?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 05:47 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

But isn't this the basis for Hume's skepticism, and the reason why Russell believed that it posed such a threat to the intellectual integrity of science? He wrote that if Hume was correct 'every attempt to arrive at general scientific laws from particular observations is fallacious', and 'the rejection of induction makes all expectations as to the future irrational', concluding that it was 'a desparate point of view, and it must be hoped that there is some way of escaping from it'. (HoWP) When people question the nature of causation, isn't this the background to it?


If it is the basis of Hume's skepticism, that is an historical matter. It is not a philosophical matter. The philosophical question is whether Hume was right, and to what extent? As I pointed out, even if he was right about causal propositions not expressing logical necessities, he still open the question of what sort of propositions they are. Hume's discussion of causation appears to be correct in his criticism of the the Rationalist's view that causal expressions express logical necessities (for they do not). But clearly, causal propositions do not express accidents either. It is not a matter of chance that lowering water to zero Celsius result in freezing, for we know why that happens. There is a causal law involved. What we can call a causal necessity. So whatever Hume's skepticism amounts to, his view that causal connections are not logical connections is, although true, still incomplete. He gives a correct negative analysis of causation, but leaves open the question of the non-accidental nature of the causal connection. It was Kant who sought to answer why the causal connection, although not a necessary connection, is not an accidental connection either.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 06:52 pm
@kennethamy,
Right. But isn't the mainstream view of the matter now more a pragmatist one? We can't really say what the relationship is between cause and effect, but we can predict it, and the formulas which yield correct predictions hold until they are falsified by experimental results that aren't described by the formula?
0 Replies
 
Sentience
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 07:06 pm
Cause is defensible, though it could be proven untrue through the existence of quantum mechanics or tachyon particles.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 08:52 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

But isn't this the basis for Hume's skepticism, and the reason why Russell believed that it posed such a threat to the intellectual integrity of science? He wrote that if Hume was correct 'every attempt to arrive at general scientific laws from particular observations is fallacious', and 'the rejection of induction makes all expectations as to the future irrational', concluding that it was 'a desparate point of view, and it must be hoped that there is some way of escaping from it'. (HoWP) When people question the nature of causation, isn't this the background to it?
Yea, reading Hume is where I first grasped that cause and effect, as we picture it, can't be justified by any logical argument. What I understood was that Hume's real question was: what is the basis for our confidence in contiguity past to future... if it's not reason. He pointed out that small children and other animals have it. What explains it?

In other words: he was asking for its cause. Cause is fundamentally looking for the bigger picture. It's one aspect of science... which I think just basically means knowledge... scientia. What, who, where, when, how... those are other parts of it. By the way, it made me smile to see your name jeeprs. Glad to know ya. Wink
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:19 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

I thought it was David Hume who cast doubt on the logical necessity of causal relations: " “there are no ideas, which occur in metaphysics, more obscure and uncertain, than those of power, force, energy or necessary connexion” (EHU, 61-2). I suppose in saying this, he has ideas like 'telos' very much in his sights.


Actually, he had our modern notion of cause-and-effect in mind. He states that we have no logical reason for believing that a cause will produce an effect in the future, and that no matter how often we see this relationship of cause-and-effect (up to and including the sun rising tomorrow, or rocks falling from gravity), we can't conclude that the same relationship will hold tommorow -- in short, we can be wrong upon what we think this connection is. Because we can be wrong, he concludes that it's not real, and subsequently states that philosophy is totally worthless. (Saddest ending to a book on epistemology I've ever read was his "On the Understanding" in EHU)

Quote:

Hume argues that causation can be conceived mainly in terms of the particular objects that are generally conjoined in experience. So he is arguing (as I understand it) that causality is something that we know from experience; it does not have an a priori foundation in any metaphysical sense. In fact, this is where Hume cast doubt on what had previously been understood as the foundation of reason itself; whereas the rationalists believed that casual relations could be understood a priori and deductively, Hume argued that they could only be understood a posteriori and inductively.


I concur, though from my reading I think Hume denies induction. He was an empiricist, but then realizing that he could be wrong about a relation, concluded that cause-and-effect was the product of the imagination, rather than something known from experience, and therefore wasn't real. (Of course, this is just my interpretation from what I remember. I'm not claiming to know better than anyone else here -- it's been awhile since I've read Hume.)
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:44 pm
I would argue that Hume is correct in so far as there is a problem with our notion of cause-and-effect, and that there actually is a problem of induction (as this is what I think it directly relates to). It was thought to be a part of nature, but Hume pointed out that rather than it being a part of nature, it's a product of our mind.

Concluding this, however, is silly, as Hume points out: He admitted that after about an hour after having thought through his logic and concluding that cause-and-effect don't exist that he had forgotten his conclusion and reverted to using this concept.

However, his conclusion has some use in the philosophy of science, as well; even the germ theory of disease could be mistaken and shown to be wrong at some point in the future. Hume's conclusion encourages intellectual probing over stagnation.


But, simultaneously, even in a less technical way, we utilize the concept of cause-and-effect on a daily basis. So, what is a cause? Does this notion correspond to reality in any way, or is it just a convenient short-hand for day to day life?

I, for one, don't reject cause-and-effect, but I started with Aristotle because I think his Physics is a clearer explication of cause: It explains change. What's more, it need not be an efficient cause. Something can freeze at 0 degrees centigrade because it is water without any ions present for instance (a material cause). So, based upon Aristotle, and Hume's self-admitted silly rejection, I propose that cause is not a notion of the universe, per se, but rather just an explanation for physical phenomena that temporarily satisfies curiosity. As such, it is something that we generate. But, though we can be wrong in our explanations, it temporarily satisfies curiosity until we're proven wrong. It's also useful for our own teleological goals, such as being able to get on in the world. Such a notion of cause is perfectly compatible with scientific knowledge as it doesn't rely as heavily upon metaphysics, though I don't think it's either a necessary or sufficient condition for scientific knowledge.

It's a bit of a pragmatic solution, but I'm lacking an argument for cause without an auxiliary metaphysic. I prefer a more general definition of cause so that it can be adopted in many metaphysics (after which the definition would be refined.)
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 10:36 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:


I, for one, don't reject cause-and-effect,


Could you explain what it would mean to reject cause and effect? Would it mean, for example, to reject that if something heavy fell on your foot and your toes broke, that the first event explained why the the second event occurred? I am just trying to get a handle on what such a rejection would imply. I would like to know what it meant in concrete instances. You talk about Hume's "silly rejection" (of cause and effect). What did Hume say that makes you think he rejected cause and effect rather than (and this is important) rejecting a particular theory of cause and effect? I mean the theory that causal relations were necessary relations. Do you believe that Hume thought that if a heavy object were to fall on his toes and his toes break, that there was no connection between the first event and the second event so that the sequence was just an accident or a coincidence? To ascribe such a view to Hume would not merely be to ascribe a silly view to Hume (as you say) but it would be to ascribe to Hume the view of a madman.
Razzleg
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 11:21 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

Could you explain what it would mean to reject cause and effect? Would it mean, for example, to reject that if something heavy fell on your foot and your toes broke, that the first event explained why the the second event occurred? I am just trying to get a handle on what such a rejection would imply. I would like to know what it meant in concrete instances. You talk about Hume's "silly rejection" (of cause and effect). What did Hume say that makes you think he rejected cause and effect rather than (and this is important) rejecting a particular theory of cause and effect? I mean the theory that causal relations were necessary relations. Do you believe that Hume thought that if a heavy object were to fall on his toes and his toes break, that there was no connection between the first event and the second event so that the sequence was just an accident or a coincidence? To ascribe such a view to Hume would not merely be to ascribe a silly view to Hume (as you say) but it would be to ascribe to Hume the view of a madman.


Would he need to be mad, to think that the heavy object might not be the cause of his broken toe? People ascribe events to all sorts of false causes. This tendency lies at the root of superstition. "That warlock just broke my toe with his nefarious spell, how unfortunate that the situation was made even worse by my dropping an object on it at that very moment."

What if Hume had been raised to think that people were born with broken toes, and managed to walk around without noticing it most of the time? Unfortunately, just as the crack in a toe bone started to widen, a vacuum was created that tended to suck large, bulky things towards it.

What if toes just spontaneously broke? Isn't this the sort of "magical thinking" that people often use: "There was no reason for it, it just happened."

It is unlikely that we would think any of these things, but I don't know that one would have to be mad to think them. They are simple examples of several radically different schema regarding causation or the lack thereof.
jeeprs
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 11:30 pm
@Razzleg,
Hume didn't deny that all such events are connected, but against what can be infered from effect to cause. I don't think he denied commonsense. Again I think he had in his sights many arguments by philosophers in saying this. According to the Stanford entry

Quote:
Hume sums up all of the relevant impressions in not one but two definitions of cause. The relation — or the lack of it — between these definitions has been a matter of considerable controversy. If we follow his account of definition, however, the first definition, which defines a cause as “an object, followed by another, and where all objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second” (EHU, 76), accounts for all the external impressions involved in the case. His second definition, which defines a cause as “an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to that other” (EHU, 77) captures the internal sensation — the feeling of determination — involved. Both are definitions, by Hume's account, but the “just definition” of cause he claims to provide is expressed only by the conjunction of the two: only together do the definitions capture all the relevant impressions involved.

... causal inferences are not due to reason, or any operation of the understanding. Reasoning concerns either relations of ideas or matters of fact. Hume quickly establishes that, whatever assures us that a causal relation obtains, it is not reasoning concerning relations between ideas. Effects are distinct events from their causes: we can always conceive of one such event occurring and the other not. So causal reasoning can't be a priori reasoning.

Causes and effects are discovered, not by reason but through experience, when we find that particular objects are constantly conjoined with one another. We tend to overlook this because most ordinary causal judgments are so familiar; we've made them so many times that our judgment seems immediate. But when we consider the matter, we realize that “an (absolutely) unexperienced reasoner could be no reasoner at all” (EHU, 45n).

(My emphasis. I think this distinction is essential to Hume's skepticism. It is similar to a line of argument in Buddhist philosophy which asks how the cause and the effect can be viewed as separate. If they are completely separate, no relation obtains; if they are the same, no relation obtains, either.)

Again, Hume's main aim is to show that our understanding of causality is based on habit and convention, rather than inviolable a priori principles. Who was he criticizing? The scholastics, of course, and the Aristotlean 'categories of causation' that we started out with.

kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 11:35 pm
@Razzleg,
Razzleg wrote:

kennethamy wrote:

Could you explain what it would mean to reject cause and effect? Would it mean, for example, to reject that if something heavy fell on your foot and your toes broke, that the first event explained why the the second event occurred? I am just trying to get a handle on what such a rejection would imply. I would like to know what it meant in concrete instances. You talk about Hume's "silly rejection" (of cause and effect). What did Hume say that makes you think he rejected cause and effect rather than (and this is important) rejecting a particular theory of cause and effect? I mean the theory that causal relations were necessary relations. Do you believe that Hume thought that if a heavy object were to fall on his toes and his toes break, that there was no connection between the first event and the second event so that the sequence was just an accident or a coincidence? To ascribe such a view to Hume would not merely be to ascribe a silly view to Hume (as you say) but it would be to ascribe to Hume the view of a madman.


Would he need to be mad, to think that the heavy object might not be the cause of his broken toe? People ascribe events to all sorts of false causes. This tendency lies at the root of superstition. "That warlock just broke my toe with his nefarious spell, how unfortunate that the situation was made even worse by my dropping an object on it at that very moment."

What if Hume had been raised to think that people were born with broken toes, and managed to walk around without noticing it most of the time? Unfortunately, just as the crack in a toe bone started to widen, a vacuum was created that tended to suck large, bulky things towards it.

What if toes just spontaneously broke? Isn't this the sort of "magical thinking" that people often use: "There was no reason for it, it just happened."

It is unlikely that we would think any of these things, but I don't know that one would have to be mad to think them. They are simple examples of several radically different schema regarding causation or the lack thereof.


I agree that it might be true that the explanation of his broken toe was not that a heavy object fell on it. All that means is that it is not a self-contradiction to suppose that the heavy object did not break the toes. But that is not a good reason to suppose that the heavy object did not break the toes, nor that someone who argued that because it is logically possible that the heavy object did not break the toes that we do not know that the heavy object broke the toes is saying something that is reasonable. Unless you think that unless it can be shown that it is impossible for the object not to have broken the toes, that we do not know that the object broke the toes. Suppose I claim to know that Obama is now president. And suppose that someone objects that I do not know that Obama is president because it is not logically impossible that he is not president. Do you think that would be a reasonable objection to my claim that I know Obama is president. Is it a necessary condition that it be impossible for Obama not to be president for me to know he is president. Similarly, is it a necessary condition that is be logically impossible that the heavy object did not break my toes for me to know that the heavy object did bread my my toes? Why?
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 11:54 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

Hume didn't deny that all such events are connected, but against what can be infered from effect to cause. I don't think he denied commonsense. Again I think he had in his sights many arguments by philosophers in saying this. According to the Stanford entry

Quote:
Hume sums up all of the relevant impressions in not one but two definitions of cause. The relation — or the lack of it — between these definitions has been a matter of considerable controversy. If we follow his account of definition, however, the first definition, which defines a cause as “an object, followed by another, and where all objects similar to the first are followed by objects similar to the second” (EHU, 76), accounts for all the external impressions involved in the case. His second definition, which defines a cause as “an object followed by another, and whose appearance always conveys the thought to that other” (EHU, 77) captures the internal sensation — the feeling of determination — involved. Both are definitions, by Hume's account, but the “just definition” of cause he claims to provide is expressed only by the conjunction of the two: only together do the definitions capture all the relevant impressions involved.

... causal inferences are not due to reason, or any operation of the understanding. Reasoning concerns either relations of ideas or matters of fact. Hume quickly establishes that, whatever assures us that a causal relation obtains, it is not reasoning concerning relations between ideas. Effects are distinct events from their causes: we can always conceive of one such event occurring and the other not. So causal reasoning can't be a priori reasoning.

Causes and effects are discovered, not by reason but through experience, when we find that particular objects are constantly conjoined with one another. We tend to overlook this because most ordinary causal judgments are so familiar; we've made them so many times that our judgment seems immediate. But when we consider the matter, we realize that “an (absolutely) unexperienced reasoner could be no reasoner at all” (EHU, 45n).

(My emphasis. I think this distinction is essential to Hume's skepticism. It is similar to a line of argument in Buddhist philosophy which asks how the cause and the effect can be viewed as separate. If they are completely separate, no relation obtains; if they are the same, no relation obtains, either.)

Again, Hume's main aim is to show that our understanding of causality is based on habit and convention, rather than inviolable a priori principles. Who was he criticizing? The scholastics, of course, and the Aristotlean 'categories of causation' that we started out with.




Actually, his target was the Rationalists, and in particular, Spinoza whose view he called, "the hideous hypothesis". Spinoza, as the paradigm rationalist held that all causal connection was necessary connection, so that Spinoza held that to say that (for instance) freezing turn water into ice is exactly like saying that all circles have points on their circumference equidistant from their centers. That both were necessary truths. But that is of historical interest. Hume seemed to think that unless causal relations were necessary relation, that they were merely accidental, and that their appearance of necessity was the result of habit and expectation. That our ordinary view of causality was, in a word, "subjective". Hume's problem was that his correct rejection of Spinoza's believe that causal connections were logically necessary connections let him (Hume) to swing wildly to the the opposite view that causal connections were objectively accidental, and that the only connection between lowering the temperature of water to zero C. lay "in the mind" but was projected on to the external world by projection. The error is that although the causal connection is not necessary as Hume saw it was not, neither is it accidental, and any connection a projection of expectation on the word. For as I mentioned, we know why water turns to ice, and the explanation concerns physical events which occur external to our mind. It is not a matter of chance that water turns to ice when its temperature is lowered. That knowledge has to be taken into account in our analysis of causation.
0 Replies
 
 

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