# Re: Probability, Necessity, and Infinity

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On Nov 11, 12:54 am, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.```
```

Your argument still doesn't work. You re tacitly assuming that
being the result of causal laws is exclusive of being the result
of logic/.reason. But that is , to say the least,  not obvioius.
OTOH, it *is* obvious that being the result of causal
laws is exclusive of being freely chosen. You need, but
don't have, an argument to the effect that free choice is essential
to rationality.

> ====
>
> 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

Saying it doesn't make it so. If Bob goes fishing because of
causal laws, he still goes fishing. If Bob is rational because of
causal laws, he is still rational. (Whether he *chooses* to go
fishing is another matter...)

> 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.

Not established.

> 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.

It would make more sense to include both in your account..the state
and the transition rules

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

Yeah. That doesn';t mean he wasn't actually rational when
he was. It *does* mean he can't choose to be
rational if the rules and previous state conspire against him...

> >> 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.

That needs demonstration

> 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.

If double checking is unmiraculous, it can be caused as well
as anything else.

> 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.

But there is nothing to stop them imposing understanding
and justification too. Our beliefs aren't necessarily true
or justified under determinism, but they aren't anyway.
What would be the difference between the deterministic
universe and the free will universe? Are you seriously
assrting that in the FW universe, our beliefs would be more
universally true and justified? But FW wouldn't force that on us.
Are you saying that in a deterministic universe they would
be less true and justified? But determinism doesn't force any
particular
level of error on us. We could be determined to be 0% right.
10% right, up to 100% right. (Although evolutionary considerations
would indicate a higher figure).

> 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.

Or it might be the case that you have FW and freelly choose
to make mistakes.  How would that look different? FW
can't force people to be correct and justified and right
all the time  -- where's the freedom in that?

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

That's a non-sequitut. THat it isn't necessary(under either
assumption!)
doesn't make it impossible.

> 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.

So? Under determinism AND evolution one could reasonably assume
that most of one's beliefs are correct. So the sceptical conclusion
doesn't follow.

> >> 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.

So? EIther you have all-embracing scepticism , or
scepticism in any universe.

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