> On May 7, 4:06 pm, "Stathis Papaioannou" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
>> On 07/05/07, [EMAIL PROTECTED] <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
>>> We have here a clear example of an indispensible *physical* concept
>>> which *cannot* be broken down or reduced to any finite lower level
>>> descriptions.  This proves that reductive materialism is false.
>> I'm not sure that it is necessary to consider the laws of physics a separate
>> ontological category. A zoologist might study the behaviour of chimpanzees,
>> take notes, and summarise these notes in a paper for others to read and test
>> by seeing if chimpanzees do indeed behave as claimed. The "rules of
>> chimpanzee behaviour" is not separate to how chimpanzees actually behave nor
>> does it have any causal effects of its own. Similarly, a physicist might
>> study the behaviour of electrons and write a paper for others to read and
>> test by seeing if electrons do behave in the way claimed, but these "laws of
>> physics" regarding electrons are not separate to electron behaviour and have
>> no causal role in electron behaviour. Electrons and chimpanzees behave in
>> the way they are inclined to behave, and if we can discern patterns by
>> observing them, that's just our good fortune.
>> --
>> Stathis Papaioannou
> Say what!!  this is not a valid analogy since the laws of physics are
> absolutely the fundamental level of reality, where as dsecriptions of
> chimpanzee behaviour are not.
> 'The Laws of Physics'  don't refer to human notions (they certainly
> are not regarded that way by scientists 

They are by the scientists I know.

>- the whole notion of an
> objective reality would have be thrown out the window if we thought
> that there were no objective laws of physics since as mentioned,
> physics is the base level of reality), but are precise mathematical
> rules which have to be (postulated as) *universal* in scope for the
> scientific method to work at all.

Sure, they are precise mathematical systems, which the scientist hopes and 
intends to describe (part of) an objective reality.  But the map is not the 
territory and scientists know it.

> If an election were merely 'inclined' to behave in a certain way
> (which by the way is the pre-scientific world-view) , then what in
> fact could be the cause of its behaviour?  An election is not a
> teleological (and non-fundamental) agent like a chimpanzee, it is a
> fixed fundamental building block of reality! There could be no
> explanatory theory of election behaviour without postulating some
> external (and objective) laws of physics capable of 'acting upon' the
> election.

This seems to confuse the laws of democracy with the laws of physics.  The 
former are enforced by the judicial system.  The latter are descriptive.

> The whole scientific method is based on the notion *external* laws of
> physics combined with empirical data.  So in practice the term *laws
> of physics* is definitely being used as if it as external objective
> 'thing' or ontological category.  The whole point is that its use this
> way in practice (indispensible for the scientific method to work)
> means that it can't in fact be broken down into merely the sum of our
> empricial observations.

That's true, a scientific theory always goes beyond merely summarizing 
observations - but it isn't always right when it does so.  I think you need to 
read Vic Stenger's book, The Comprehensible Cosmos.

Brent Meeker

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