# Re: Probability, Necessity, and Infinity

```On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 3:53 PM, 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Nov 4, 4:40 am, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> If an entity exists in a universe that is subject to unchanging causal
>> laws, how can it have justified true beliefs (a.k.a. knowledge)
>> either?
>>
>> If the entity's beliefs are the result of some more fundamental
>> underlying process, then those beliefs aren't held for reasons of
>> logic or rationality.
>
> That doesn't follow.```
```
It follows by definition.

1.  IF a universe governed by causal laws -

2.  THEN everything that occurs within that universe is a result of
those laws acting on the universe's state.  Every change of state
happens according to some law.

3.  The entity's holding of some belief occurs within that universe.

4.  Therefore the entity's holding of some belief (whether rational
*or* irrational) is a result of causal laws acting on the entity's
state, and nothing else.

What else could account for the entity's holding of some particular belief?

"Logical" and "rational" are adjectives.  You're confusing descriptive
labels with causal forces.

====

A.  "Bob believes X" - True.

B.  "Bob believes that believing X is rational" - True.

C.  "Bob believes that he believes X because it is rational" - True.

D.  "Bob believes X because believing X is rational" - FALSE

E.  "Bob believes X, and believing X is rational" - may or may not be true.

====

Maybe we need to define our terms.

What definition are you using for "belief"?  What is a belief?  Is
belief fundamental or does it reduce to something more basic?

If belief just reduces to physical brain states, then option D above
is *still* false.

In our entity's universe the brain being in state Y isn't caused by it
having previously been in state X.  Rather, the governing laws cause
the transition from X to Y.

Under different causal laws, the brain might instead have transitioned
from state X to an irrational state like Z.

>> Rather, the entity holds the beliefs that are necessitated by the
>> initial conditions and causal laws of it's universe.
>
> That doens;t stop them being logical or rational.
> It only stops them being the result of a free choice
> to adopt logic or rationality

Once you give up free choice, you're left with skepticism.

Bryan Caplan had an interesting comment on this:

"Now it is a fact that people disagree on many questions; this leads
us to wonder if on any given issue we are correct.  How is the
determinist to come to grips with this? If the content of my mind is
determined entirely on the level of micro-particles, how would I ever
double-check my views? I would be determined to believe them; and if
arguments convinced me, then they would be determined to convince me.
The crucial point is that my views -- correct and incorrect alike --
would be the result of inexorable causal forces.  And these forces
determine people to error just as inexorably as they determine them to
truth.  Of course, I might be correct by coincidence.  But knowledge
is _justified_ true belief; and when we are pre-determined to believe
whatever we happen to believe no matter what, it is hard to see what
the justification of our beliefs is.

Put succinctly, if we have knowledge we must accept beliefs only
because we understand them to be true; but if determinism is correct,
then we automatically accept whatever beliefs that our constituent
micro-particles impose on us.  It might be the case that those
micro-particles coincidentally make me believe true things, but the
truth would not be the ultimate causal agent acting upon me.

Determinism, then, leads to skepticism, the denial of the possibility
of justified true belief. "

And probabilistic laws aren't any better.

>> Those initial conditions and causal laws *may* be such that the entity
>> holds true beliefs, but there is no requirement that this be the case
>> (for example, our own universe produces a fair number of delusional
>> schizophrenics).
>
> OTOH, it;s  more likely than not. Organisms with delusional
> beliefs would have trouble surviving and reproducing,

Again, you're confusing descriptive labels with a causal forces.

Some organisms are caused to hold delusional beliefs by the same
forces that cause others to hold rational beliefs.

Further, those same causal forces also determine the fates of both
delusional and rational organisms.

That schizophrenia hasn't been observed to vastly increase
reproductive success is merely a contingent outcome of the our
universe's particular initial conditions and causal laws.

>> this, since there is no way to
>> step outside of the universe's control of one's beliefs to
>> independently verify the "reasonableness" of the beliefs it generates.
>>
>> Again...schizophrenics are generally pretty convinced of the truth of
>> their delusions.
>>
>> Even in a lawful universe how do you justify your beliefs?  And then
>> how do you justify your justifications of your beliefs?  And then how
>> do you justify the justifications of the justifications of your
>> beliefs?  And so on.  Agrippa's Trilemma.
>
> Would apply to a non-causal universe

Correct.  It applies everywhere.

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