kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 12:25 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Quote:
Causes are connections between events, which explain why events occur

What is your definition of "event"?




Events occur in time. They have a beginning and an end. Have you any reason for that question?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 02:00 pm
@kennethamy,
Thats not a definition.
And how is it decided where events begin and end ?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 02:21 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Thats not a definition.
And how is it decided where events begin and end ?



Depends on the event. For instance, World War II began with the invasion of Poland in 1939, and ended with the surrender of Japan in 1945. If you would like a definition of "event" why not go to the dictionary? That is the place to look for definitions of words.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 03:14 pm
@kennethamy,
Clausewitz said that war was the continuation of politics by other means, making the "event window" a little less certain for many historians.
But the general point is that observers are required to define "the event", and the attribution of "cause" as Kant pointed out, is a psychologal construct in accord with our human disposition to "predict and control". The more interesting question is whether "causality" is always a constituent of what we term a "satisfactory explanation". Are teleology and correlation the poor cousins in that respect ?
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 03:32 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Clausewitz said that war was the continuation of politics by other means, making the "event window" a little less certain for many historians.
But the general point is that observers are required to define "the event", and the attribution of "cause" as Kant pointed out, is a psychologal construct in accord with our human disposition to "predict and control". The more interesting question is whether "causality" is always a constituent of what we term a "satisfactory explanation". Are teleology and correlation the poor cousins in that respect ?


I don't know what a "psychological construct" is supposed to be, but when I say that the cause of water freezing is the lowering of its temperature, I am explaining why it is that water freezes, and that explanation is well supported by both theory and evidence, and do far as I know, it is true. I don't find your more interesting question very interesting since, for one thing, I don't understand it. But for another thing, it does not have much to do with what has gone on before in this thread. So, rather than start another diversion, shall we continue with the previous issue? Unless, of course, you think what I said was true, and you have no further objections. If you are simply diverting the issue because you have no more to say about it, (which I find is the usual reason for a diversion) then if you don't mind, I will just opt out. And that includes Clausewitz too. What on earth has what Clausewitz said to do with the fact (which is clear) that World War II began with the invasion of Poland September of 1939, and ended with the surrender of Japan in August of 1945? Anything at all?
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 09:07 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
The more interesting question is whether "causality" is always a constituent of what we term a "satisfactory explanation".
If the cat dies, Schrodinger will be held responsible for causing its death. But if the cat doesn't die, Schrodinger will not be awarded responsibility for causing its survival. Causal completists address this asymmetry by claiming that in the case of survival, there has been no event, so no cause was required. However, take the case where Schrodinger keeps the cat on his lap and, instead of releasing cyanide, sets his apparatus so that a decay event will turn on a light. Schrodinger then sits for the half life. If the light comes on he does nothing but if the light doesn't come on, he gives the cat a lethal injection. In order to be consistent with their response to survival in the traditional story, causal completists must now accept an event which occurred without a cause. So, causal completism is not a consistent position, unless cause is accepted to be a vague and ambiguous notion.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 10:26 pm
I think, for the benefit of anyone not familiar with the popular literature on Quantum Mechanics, that this last entry is trying to make a point about the nature of causality, based on a 'thought experiment' called Schrodinger's Cat

The reason Schrodinger made up this story was to illustrate what he thought were the absurd consequences of extrapolating from the phenomenon of 'quantum indeterminacy' to the 'macro' level of ordinary life. I don't think he ever intended the audience to take the idea seriously. So I don't know if any serious arguments can be made on the 'status of the Schrodinger's cat'. In any case, the point at issue is sufficiently confusing to have bamboozled some of the greatest minds of 20th century physics, so its value as a rhetorical device is, I think, moot.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 10:32 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

I think, for the benefit of anyone not familiar with the popular literature on Quantum Mechanics, that this last entry is trying to make a point about the nature of causality, based on a 'thought experiment' called Schrodinger's Cat

The reason Schrodinger made up this story was to illustrate what he thought were the absurd consequences of extrapolating from the phenomenon of 'quantum indeterminacy' to the 'macro' level of ordinary life. I don't think he ever intended the audience to take the idea seriously. So I don't know if any serious arguments can be made on the 'status of the Schrodinger's cat'. In any case, the point at issue is sufficiently confusing to have bamboozled some of the greatest minds of 20th century physics, so its value as a rhetorical device is, I think, moot.


Thank you. That is just my view. And that cat poses a bogus issue for free will.
0 Replies
 
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 11:04 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
I think, for the benefit of anyone not familiar with the popular literature on Quantum Mechanics, that this last entry is trying to make a point about the nature of causality, based on a 'thought experiment' called Schrodinger's Cat

The reason Schrodinger made up this story was to illustrate what he thought were the absurd consequences of extrapolating from the phenomenon of 'quantum indeterminacy' to the 'macro' level of ordinary life. I don't think he ever intended the audience to take the idea seriously. So I don't know if any serious arguments can be made on the 'status of the Schrodinger's cat'. In any case, the point at issue is sufficiently confusing to have bamboozled some of the greatest minds of 20th century physics, so its value as a rhetorical device is, I think, moot.
Read my post again. The point is quite simple, and has nothing to do with quantum effects or determinism. The reason I use the cat story is that it already has a set up which meets my requirements, so I dont have to write a bunch of stuff setting up a situation, a situation with which my reader will not be familiar. Apparently, even with this facility, my readers manage to confuse themselves.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2010 12:16 am
@ughaibu,
As soon as you say "in the event of the light NOT appearing" you are confirming my point that the observer is required to define the event window. It seems to me that "the great minds" were bamboozled by this rather simple aspect of non-duality between observer and observed.

On the issues of teleology and asymmetry, I believe that there is viable view in physics in which later observations are deemed to "cause" earlier events. There are also Gestalt concepts in biology where the "explanation" of the behaviour of subcomponents necessarily involves functionality with respect to to higher level processes. Both of these need to be considered in our analysis of "satisfactory explanations".
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2010 12:25 am
@kennethamy,
Philososophy 101. Assignment:
In the light of Clausewitz's concept of "continuity" , discuss the "event" status of military action with respect to the historical view that "WW2 was a continuation of WW1"
0 Replies
 
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2010 01:09 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
As soon as you say "in the event of the light NOT appearing". . . .
I didn't say that, because my point is that if there is no event in the case of there being no radioactive decay, then there is no event in the case of the light not coming on.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2010 05:53 am
@ughaibu,
Quote:
.....if the light doesn't come on....... he gives the cat a lethal injection.

My point is that the italicised phrase implies a specific " observation window" and is consequently "an event".
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2010 07:49 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
Quote:
.....if the light doesn't come on....... he gives the cat a lethal injection.

My point is that the italicised phrase implies a specific " observation window" and is consequently "an event".
Of course it's not, because the half life elapses in any case, regardless of the fate of the cat.
0 Replies
 
Huxley
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jul, 2010 01:42 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:

I really have no clear idea what the answers to your questions might be, and I think (myself) that they are too vague to answer. But the question seems to be why anyone would think that we cannot know that X causes Y. And, in the particular example, why we cannot know that dropping a heavy object on my foot was the cause of the harm done to my foot. Have you a reply to that?
(Vague questions get vague answers, and vague answers do not contribute to progress in getting clear about the issue, or the answer to the issue). For instance, asking, "what is cause" is like asking, "what are mashed potatoes?" It isn't that I don't know what mashed potatoes are, it is that I don't see how much progress comes from answering the question. And the same goes for "What is cause?". I think we can get somewhere by asking a specific question like the one I just asked above. Else, we'll just go round, and round, and round.


Sure, one can use concepts without understanding their full explication, I won't deny. And so you can know that the rock being dropped onto your foot caused your foot to hurt in the sense that you seem to understand cause, even if you can't communicate that sense very well.

But, is such an understanding a scientific understanding?

Do we need a full explication, or is the "intuitive" understanding of cause enough for scientific advance?

Even if you don't have a full defense of cause, don't you have any idea of what cause might be? How do you use the word?
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Jul, 2010 11:39 pm
@Huxley,
Huxley wrote:
Do we need a full explication, or is the "intuitive" understanding of cause enough for scientific advance?
Kennethamy's example seems appropriate for the associated field of science, medicine. Though such a notion of cause amounts to statistical changes according to observation. It doesn't appear to entail any metaphysical commitments.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 12:01 am
@ughaibu,
is it fair to say that medicine nowadays is given much more latitude in arguing from effect to cause than is philosophy?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 12:09 am
@jeeprs,
Correct...and note concepts in physics like "an anti particle travels backwards in time". From such concepts Feynman painted the picture of " philosophers as bemused tourist scratching their heads at the strange practices of scientists".
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 12:21 am
@fresco,
(well my reading of the whole argument, albeit from an extremely high level, is that Hume took aim at causality precisely to overthrow the various types of teleological and first-cause arguments which were the bread-and-butter of all the established philosophy of his day. This is why he was so enthusiastically received by the Enlightenment thinkers. Good empiricist that he was, he was determined to show that all our knowledge comes about not through some a priori intuition of the type espoused by Platonists, Liebniz, and the rest of those obscurantists, but from good, ol' fashioned Scottish common sense. That is why he has been so enduringly popular amongst your crusty scientific skeptics, who quote him with the hushed reverence formerly accorded to Aristotle.

The unfortunate thing for Hume (and the other empiricists) is that Kant definitively showed that in some very important respects 'the object conforms to our perception', and not visca versa. In fact Kant did a great job in overturning the extreme skepticism that Hume deployed in his attempt to discredit anything faintly metaphysical, and it is Kant who has had the enduring legacy, which is stronger than ever in cognitivism, constructivism and many of the important perspectives of post-modernism.)
0 Replies
 
ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2010 12:23 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
is it fair to say that medicine nowadays is given much more latitude in arguing from effect to cause than is philosophy?
As an example, a few years ago I was treated for chronic hepatitis C. I'm now statistically cured and one cant discount the role of the treatment in causing my cure. Given my initial condition, my doctor stated my chance of a cure as 50%, after three months, according to the progress of the treatment, this changed to "over 90%" and six months after the completion of treatment it became an almost certain cure. This is a far cry from any notion of cause on the lines of 'given A then B will occur and without A then B will not occur'.
 

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