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# What do you think of this argument for determinism?

Thu 10 Nov, 2011 06:22 pm
(1) Determinism is the thesis that there are rules that determine everything. "Everything" includes actions and states.
(2) Rules determine the things that follow them.
(3) Consider any consistent set W of rules.
(4) Either a thing X follows the rules of W or X does not follow the rules of W.
(5) If X follows the rules of W, then X is following rules.
(6) If X does not follow the rules of W, then X is following the rule "Break the rules of W." Thus, X is following rules.

By disjunction elimination using (4), (5), and (6),
(7) X is following rules.

Which means
(8) X is always following rules. It is impossible for X not to follow rules (It is never the case that there is no rule X is following).

It follows from (2) and (8) that
(9) There are rules that determine X.

Therefore, by (1) and (9),
(10) Determinism is true.

Is this argument valid? Is it sound? Why or why not?

Overall, what do you think of this argument?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 2,452 • Replies: 10

georgeob1

1
Thu 10 Nov, 2011 06:55 pm
@browser32,
You have constructed a tautology that is irrefutably true. However, the "determinism" involved in it is not what is usually meant by the word. It is - by the implication of your "logic" - simply that which causes action. This is essentially a self-reflexive statement without meaning.

There are other important factors limiting determinism in the simpler definition of the word used in science. It is simply an observable fact in biology, the dynamics of physical systems, and in the associated mathematics, that the future states of entirely deterministic systems (that is systems that are known to obey known rules or laws are frequently unpredictable, even if the initial state is accurately known. The scientific/mathematical term for this is chaos. It occurs in most complex, non-linear dynamic systems. It is the reason we can't accurately predict the weather more than a few days in advance (about what we could do forty years ago) even despite twenty doublings in available computational power according to Moore's law.

That leads to an interesting question. If the future state of a complex non linear system is unknowable, then what the hell does determninism mean?
JLNobody

0
Thu 10 Nov, 2011 10:19 pm
@georgeob1,
I can't accept the conception of a deterministic universe. And I felt this way before hearing about quantum theory, string theory, chaos theory, etc. It seems--and I got this, as I recall, from Nietzsche--that causes and effects are purely conceptual entities. We think them rather than perceive them--this also sounds a bit like Hume.
We see a phenomenon (state, event, etc.) and want to know how to make it occur or not occur in the future (i.e., to control it). We have learned to apply a causal model to our quest. We call the phenomenon an EFFECT and pursue the discovery of its CAUSE (or causes--including necessary and/or sufficient). Note that while our model presupposes that the cause occured before the effect--viz. it's an antecedent variable/condition--we look for it AFTER conceiving the effect. Notice that while causes and effects exist as part of a purely conceptual exercise we normally imagine that we actually SEE them in the world.
Social scientists use causal and functional models to explain states. For example one can "explain" an institution historically, in terms of the conditions which gave rise to it. This is, of course, a causal explanation. But there was a time when institutions were explained in terms of their value as effects, i.e., their contribution to the function prerequisite of social stability, social order, survival, etc.
All of this is useful, but can we draw from such puny efforts the notion of cosmic determinism, that the Cosmos is essentially a chain of actual causes and effects? I think not.
Fil Albuquerque

1
Thu 10 Nov, 2011 10:42 pm
@georgeob1,
...in a word, UNITY !
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fresco

1
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 01:11 am
@browser32,
The "argument" shows the total futility of binary logic in dealing with interesting philosophical issues. An analogy might be plumbers attempting brain surgery.
HegelMeister

1
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 09:38 am
@browser32,
The problem is that you are trying to lay a premise down where you can not prove without a doubt that it is true. A premise must be true before you can make a conclusion based off of it. There has to be a predicate that dictates that if X(Premise) is true than following from this premise Y is true given the terms and conditions involved in the syllogism.

You have no predicate as to which we can prove that your premise is true therefore no possible conclusion can be valid on this basis. I think the rest of the propositions leading up to the conclusion negate themselves by default because there is no logical preclude from which we can prescribe a logical conclusion given the arrangement of factors involved in the argument.

I sort of have to accord with one poster who says that the mere fact that we can not predict or that their is no predicate upon which we can adequately conclude certain things to be necessarily true is enough to re-ask the question what is determinism exactly.

In deterministic models you can not deduct much you can only induct certain things on the basis of mathematical calculations which will always have a margin for error. There is a problem with induction and tautological statements like the one you listed below and that probability wise there is some sort of logical inconsistency that is involved somewhere.
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Fil Albuquerque

2
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 10:40 am
@fresco,
I believe your reply was written in and with binary logic...no more is needed to confront the assertion you imply ! (a plain matter of being honest)
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georgeob1

3
Fri 11 Nov, 2011 10:55 am
@JLNobody,
The notions of "cause" and 'effect" are, as you noted merely human concepts and constructs - exactly as are the abstract constructs upon which you base your intellectual reject of cause and effect.

I strongly suspect that both Nietzsche and Hume would be amazed at what science and physics in particular have done since their time with these concepts and the discipline of repeatable observation. In short in rejecting cause and effect you are rejecting the intellectual foundations of everything from Aristotle, the Medieval theologians ( some famous Jewish & Muslim ones too - Maimonides and Averroes) and to modern physics, including self-proclaimed atheists like Steven Hawking and others.

My point about the ultimate unpredictability of many deterministic systems was not offered to reject determinism per se, but rather to point out that determinism does not imply that the future is knowable.
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tomr

1
Wed 16 Nov, 2011 10:30 am
@browser32,
There is a problem with (6). "then X is following the rule "Break the rules of W"". This could be done in a variety of ways depending on what the actual rules of W are. The rules actually followed by X may be different than "Break the rules of W" and still satisfy the condition "Break the rules of W". The real question here is: Can X be in a state that does not result from a set of rules? Or ultimately can something occur without being under the influence of rules?
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joefromchicago

1
Wed 16 Nov, 2011 11:16 am
@browser32,
browser32 wrote:
Is this argument valid?

No.

browser32 wrote:
Is it sound?

No.

browser32 wrote:
Why or why not?

Rampant question begging. Fallacies of equivocation. General incoherency.

browser32 wrote:
Overall, what do you think of this argument?

I don't.
0 Replies

G H

2
Thu 17 Nov, 2011 10:38 am
@browser32,
Quote:
(6) If X does not follow the rules of W, then X is following the rule "Break the rules of W." Thus, X is following rules.

Since "Break the rules of W" would include violating that particular rule itself, *6* is a superfluous paradox not really resolved by a *5* redundancy of: "X is [instead still] following the rules". Possible revision: Break the rules of W other than this one.

The result of a conclusion-generation process does not necessarily correspond to circumstances in the empirical world, if its input or premises were speculative, unsure, unfounded, or not immune to criticism beforehand. What's to be considered in an evaluation of a particular example of such a conclusion-generation process is its inter-consistency: Do the steps hang together according to the principles slash relational operations of the system of reason or calculation it supposedly adheres to or belongs to? Are the identities of the values and abstract placeholders properly maintained throughout? (If the bloody underlying system even requires such reliable designations! Zeus only knows what kind of anti-traditional scheme one will encounter these days scuttling from the woodwork!) Etc.
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