On Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 12:37 PM, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
> If we could remove ourselves from the universe and take a strict
> reductionist-god's eye view (which means having to drop all our usual
> mental categories - a very hard thing to achieve imaginatively) then,
> strictly adhering to the above hypothesis, all that would remain would
> be some ground-level physical machine grinding along, without the need
> for additional composite or macroscopic posits. Take your pick from
> current theory what is supposed to represent this "machine", but that
> needn't necessarily be at issue for the purpose of the argument. The
> point is that removing everything composite from the picture
> supposedly results in zero difference at the base level - same events,
> same "causality".
It seems to me that the primary question is about causality. Once you
commit to the idea of a rule-governed system, you're already in a radically
restrictive regime. Whether the system is physical or "ideal" or whatever
seems largely irrelevant.
But what is the alternative to a rule-governed system?
How can the occurrence of any event be explained *except* by attributing
that occurrence to some rule? Which is just to say that the event occurred
for some reason.
But if everything has a reason, then there are an infinity of reasons even
if there are only a finite number of things that initially need
explanation. Because for every reason there should be a another reason that
explains why the rule the reason refers to holds instead of not holding or
instead of some other rule holding in it's place or in addition to it.
And then we need a reason for each one of the reasons for our original
reasons. And so on, ad infinitum. But why our particular set of infinite
reasons instead of some other set of inifinite reasons? What is the reason
The alternative is that some things happen for no reason. But in this case,
why would some things have explanations while others don't? What is the
reason for the two categories?
Maybe, instead, there is no reason for anything? How would we know? What
would eliminate this possibility from consideration?
So...reductive physicalism. It seems like only one example of a larger
Maybe "Idealist Accidentalism" is the answer?
On Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 7:04 PM, David Nyman <david.ny...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I suppose that evolution has equipped us with such an
> instinctive commitment to naturalism...
Why would that be the case? And if true, what does it mean?
In a deterministic world view, such as the Newtonian one that was in favor
in 1859 when Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the answer is
simple: it is a necessary and inevitable consequence of the universe's
initial conditions and causal laws that humans have an instinctive
commitment to naturalism.
So in a deterministic universe, questions about evolution are ultimately
just questions about initial conditions and causal laws.
In a probabilistic world view, we add an element of chance to initial
conditions and causal laws. The universe no longer plays chess...instead it
plays poker. There are still rules, but the rules include randomly
shuffling the deck between hands and keeping the hole cards hidden.
In a probabilistic universe, questions about evolution are still ultimately
questions about initial conditions and causal laws. The constrained
randomness involved of how events actually transpire is an aspect of the
universe's framework of governing laws.
So, either way: We have an instinctive commitment to naturalism because the
universe has caused us to have an instinctive commitment to naturalism.
Given that this is the case, should be more inclined to trust this instinct,
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