- Sep 28, 2021
- Basic Beliefs
What degree of reliability are we talking about to get "reliable"?
We know that classical physics provided a really good approximation to reality, to the point it allowed people to go to the Moon. Yet, a claim that classical physics provides a true depiction of reality (no qualifications) would be false.
I believe there are three distinct classes of causal mechanisms that correspond to three levels of organization: physical (inanimate objects respond passively to physical forces), biological (living organisms, biologically driven to survive, thrive, and reproduce), and rational (intelligent species making deliberate choices by reason or calculation). Quantum events are most likely happening at a fourth level of organization, with quarks operating by a fourth set of rules.
To get a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, we would have to presume that each of these causal mechanisms is perfectly reliable within its own domain. Then we could further presume that every event is reliably caused by some specific combination of physical, biological, and rational causation.
Physics does not get us to the Moon. But an intelligent species imagining that possibility, as a way of increasing the likelihood of biological survival, is able to use its knowledge of physics to make sure the rocket and the Moon show up at the same place at the same time.
So, I agree with you that physics is not sufficient to explain how all real world events come about.
Is the behavior of the coin deterministic?
Yes. I am assuming that deterministic means that how it will land is reliably caused by physical events that make the result theoretically 100% predictable, even though we don't usually have the ability to make that prediction in practice.
That said, I do believe the problems we deal with are generally problems of knowledge, not of causation.
Right. But the question is whether it is reasonable to assume a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, where each event is reliably caused by preceding events.
Indeed, assigning (close to) 1/2 to the hypothesis that an ordinary coin will land heads is rational, but so is the (almost) 1/2 prediction that it already landed heads, if we know it landed already. So, in this case, our focus seems clearly on knowledge. Nevertheless, this does not tell us that the coin is deterministic, or that the universe is. Maybe it is. Maybe it is not.
I'm working under the assumption that the real world operates with perfectly reliable cause and effect. There is a second question as to whether this assumption has any meaningful implications for any human scenarios.
So, the post pushes us to the opposite extreme, where cause and effect is perfectly unreliable, just to consider what that might look like.
But if it is not, it seems to me that the sort of indeterminism that there is, is not the sort of indeterminism that threatens or ability to act of our own free will. It might at most reduce it a little bit in some odd circumstances, but generally we can act of our own free will regardless of whether determinism happens to be true. Furthermore, some forms of indeterminism - if real - would not reduce the aformention ability at all.
My position is that freedom requires the ability to reliably cause effects. If I cannot reliably cause any effects, then I have no freedom to do anything at all.
To the degree that the outcome of my actions is unreliable, I would necessarily lose some ability to accomplish what I chose to do. So, my freedom goes up as the reliability of causation goes up, and my freedom goes down as reliability of causation goes down. And this is the reason that causal indeterminism does not improve our freedom.
Well, in any case from the little I know there are some difficulties with that, no matter how big the collider. But that's a side issue. I do not have the belief that the world is not deterministic. I do not have the belief that it is deterministic, either. But my objection is to the claim that indeterminism would have the consequences that you say it would have. Granted, some forms of indeterminism would do that. But others wouldn't.
I believe that as long as determinism is limited to asserting that we live in a world of perfectly reliable cause and effect, there should be no problem. It is only when determinism is claimed to strip us of freedom and control, of free will and responsibility, that people find the notion of determinism repulsive, and feel a need to invoke indeterminism to counter those false implications.
Marvin Edwards said:I don't see how it is possible to deterministically produce a causally indeterministic number. We can easily produce a number that someone else cannot guess (determine as in "to know"). But I don't think it is possible to deterministically cause a causally indeterministic number. The means by which the number is produced makes it predictable in theory, if not in practice.
You just need a rule in the universe that is something like (If B obtains, then the output is a number between 1 and 10), and no rule that fixes which number it is. I'm not suggesting that this is how our universe works. Rather, it's an example to show that some forms of indeterminism would not threaten our ability to act of our own accord.
But, if nothing fixes which number it is, then either nothing will be output, or all numbers will.