# Re: Probability, Necessity, and Infinity

```On Sun, Nov 14, 2010 at 1:39 PM, 1Z <peterdjo...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> On Nov 11, 12:54 am, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> 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.```
```
How can it not be exclusive?  Either the causal laws explain the
result -or- logic and reason explain the result.

If logic and reason reduce to causal laws, then ultimately causal laws
alone explain the result.

If causal laws reduce to logic and reason, then ultimately logic and
reason alone explain the result.

If causal laws and "logic and reason" are entirely different things,
and causal laws are sufficient to explain the way that events
transpire, then what do we need "logic and reason" for?  They are
superfluous, except as descriptive categories.

> 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.

Actually I would say that the burden of proof is on you to show that
abstract concepts, like logic and rationality, can also be causal
forces.

Is a computer executing a chess program logical or rational?  Does
logic cause the computer to select one move instead of another?  OR do
specific arrangements of electrons and quarks that make up the
computer, and the laws of physics, cause the computer to enter one
physical state instead of another, and we merely categorize and
interpret these physical states using  abstract concepts like logic
and rationality?

Logic and rationality are in the mind beholder if they are anywhere,
and certainly not in the quarks and electrons of computers, which are
the same as the quarks and electrons of rocks or clouds, and are
*literally* unmoved by reason.

A computer is moved by logic only in the figurative sense.

>> ====
>>
>> 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...)

This is, of course, Case E.  Bobs actions may fall into the category
of "rational", but he didn't take those actions because they were
rational.

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

>> 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.

But how do you double check your double check?  If you doubt the
assumptions and reasoning that led to your initial belief, why
wouldn't those doubts apply equally to your double checking process?

You can't step outside your beliefs to independently verify them.
Crazy people don't know their crazy.  Often, they think it's you who
is crazy.

>> 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?

1.  If there is no free will, then all that's left is skepticism.

2.  There is no free will.

3.  All that's left is skepticism.

> 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).

Evolution is nothing except initial conditions and causal laws.

Either our initial conditions and causal laws are such that we are
right, or their not.

>> 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?

Free will isn't a coherent concept so there's no point in spending
much time on it.

>> 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.

If it isn't necessary then how do you justify your belief in it?

True belief isn't impossible.  Justified true belief seems to be.

>> 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.

Again with the evolution.

What does evolution add to a deterministic universe?  Either the
initial conditions and causal laws lead to some particular outcome
(e.g., intelligence) -or- they don't.  There's nothing for evolution
to do.

What's more, evolution adds nothing to a probabilistic universe either.

What is evolution, beyond causal laws acting on state over time?

Again, you've taken a figure of speech (natural selection) and
interpreted it literally.

No "selection" actually takes place.  Things just happen, per the
governing causal laws (if there are any).

Evolution is history, it's not a causal force.

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