1. Standard memberknightmeister
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    12 Jul '07 19:10
    If I can explain how the universe got here then it would be self defeating wouldn't it because someone could always ask " how did the cause of the universe getting here get here?" . If I said the universe came from nothing then there is no way I can explain it coherently because to explain it would be to invoke a cause or mechanism of which there can be none.

    Similarly if one is to explain free will then as soon as one explains it then one again invokes a cause or mechanism behind free will which further implies a determined cause for the action , catch 22.

    However , in my view it is disingenuous to believe that all things that don't have clear explanations must be false since the origins of the universe itself is incoherent . We either end up with infinite regress or something from nothing. We are stuck if we can explain the origins of the universe then the problem just moves one step back , catch 22 again.

    One may feel that there is no mystery to life and all things no matter what are explainable in coherent ways. But what if they are not?
  2. Standard memberknightmeister
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    12 Jul '07 20:41
    Just to clarify the inspiration for this thread is a kind of response to this question....(let me know if you don't know the T4 question)


    "If ever you can tell me what explains your acting differently at T4; or if you can bring some considered argument against compatibilism that doesn't just beg the question or make appeals to consequences, let me know." LEMONJELLO

    RESPONSE----


    I have come to realise that if I were able to explain my acting differently at T4 then of course your objection would be that I would have provided a reason for said choice and provided evidence that it was not a free choice afterall but determined by a cause. Why would that choice then be any different second time around?

    So how to explain the unexplainable? One line of thought here is to consider that I am the cause of my own choice. This sounds strange at first (and indeed it is) because this would mean that I am somehow able to act in and of my own volition. I get to choose my own choice. But surely (you may ask) this means that I am not bound by causality or determining factors and that there is no reason for my choice? This does not neccessarily follow because whatever I choose will have a rationale to it , and I am still living in a world full of causality with a whole gamut of desires and motives witrhin me.However , with a truely free choice there will be no causal factor strong enough to force me to choose.

    Now this all sounds potty I know , how can anyone defy determinism and causality? , but consider this . One might say that an uncaused choice independent of anything else is impossible. The choice cannot be self contained or free of causality one might also say. I cannot be both the chooser and the causer of my own choice (?) What this implies is that nothing can exist that is not caused by something else (ie nothing can be self contained of itself or uncaused).

    This then becomes interesting because if we apply this to the universe we then get into problems . If we say that the universe must have been caused by something (as we must if we go down this road) then we soon get into an infinite regress of causes with no ultimate explanation. We could say that the universe caused itself to exist but then we would be admitting that it IS possible for something to be uncaused and act in and of its own self contained power since the universe would not have to rely on causation. In any case it's possible to make a strong case that there is some uncaused reality to existence. This is not to say it's random , only that it is self contained in and of itself.

    So if we say it's impossible for me to make a choice that is independent of causality we are really implying that it's impossible for anything to be free of causality. But if this is true then what caused the universe and what caused that? If the universe just "started" in and of itself with no need for causality , then why can't we say that it's possible for a man to make a choice without needing recourse to causality. This of course would mean that something uncaused was helping the man to do this but that's a whole different story.

    I realise this is still mysterious to an extent but I do feel that the arguments around causality itself and free will are linked. Ultimately we are forced to realise that causality itself can't be all that there is.
  3. Joined
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    12 Jul '07 20:483 edits
    Originally posted by knightmeister
    If I can explain how the universe got here then it would be self defeating wouldn't it because someone could always ask " how did the cause of the universe getting here get here?" . If I said the universe came from nothing then there is no way I can explain it coherently because to explain it would be to invoke a cause or mechanism of which there can b fe and all things no matter what are explainable in coherent ways. But what if they are not?
    Failing to explain every positive fact whatever does not imply incoherency of ideas. For example, you mention the infinite regress of contingent entities: something like every contingent entity is explained by some set of other contingent entities, stretching back in some infinite chain. This provides proximate explanation for each entity; and there are some who think that explanation of the parts constitutes explanation of the whole; but I'd agree with you that it fails to explain every relevant positive fact. It doesn't explain at least one brute positive fact: that there are and always have been contingent entities. But how is that incoherent?

    Now, on the other hand, your view on free will is obviously incoherent. Free will is about autonomous action, and autonomous action is about governing one's self. One cannot govern one's self through random, arbitrary events. And yet this is precisely what your view entails: that the content of free choice is metaphysically random and arbitrary.

    So, not a good comparison. It's not just that your view of free will lacks some explanatory power; it's that your view is simply unintelligible.
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    12 Jul '07 20:59
    Originally posted by knightmeister
    Similarly if one is to explain free will then as soon as one explains it then one again invokes a cause or mechanism behind free will which further implies a determined cause for the action , catch 22.

    By the way, this bit is question begging. Surprise, surprise.
  5. DonationPawnokeyhole
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    12 Jul '07 23:01
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Failing to explain every positive fact whatever does not imply incoherency of ideas. For example, you mention the infinite regress of contingent entities: something like every contingent entity is explained by some set of other contingent entities, stretching back in some infinite chain. This provides proximate explanation for each entity; and there are ...[text shortened]... w of free will lacks some explanatory power; it's that your view is simply unintelligible.
    Isn't his point that existence is an unfathomable riddle?

    Are you assuming that all undetermined acts must be random?
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    12 Jul '07 23:542 edits
    Originally posted by Pawnokeyhole
    Isn't his point that existence is an unfathomable riddle?

    Are you assuming that all undetermined acts must be random?
    Cosmological origins is a difficult subject, and I don't see any warranted positive belief there. I don't think free will is so difficult. Sure, libertarian free will is. Knightmeister cannot answer the T4 question because under his view there is no explanation for him to give. If he wants to limit the discussion to only libertarian versions, then I'll agree with him: yeah, free will is unfathomable.

    Concerning the second question: I take it to be the case that if antecedents were not causally sufficient to bring the event about, then the event was metaphysically random. So if the antecedent in that conditional is what you meant by "undetermined", then yes.
  7. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Jul '07 00:11
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Failing to explain every positive fact whatever does not imply incoherency of ideas. For example, you mention the infinite regress of contingent entities: something like every contingent entity is explained by some set of other contingent entities, stretching back in some infinite chain. This provides proximate explanation for each entity; and there are ...[text shortened]... w of free will lacks some explanatory power; it's that your view is simply unintelligible.
    ...and there are some who think that explanation of the parts constitutes explanation of the whole; but I'd agree with you that it fails to explain every relevant positive fact. It doesn't explain at least one brute positive fact: that there are and always have been contingent entities.

    I’ve never quite understood your objection here—if it is an objection.

    Once I have explained all the existent entities and their relationships (if that were possible), if the whole is simply the collectivity thereof, then there is no further explanation necessary. The whole is not something in itself, other than the collectivity.

    It seems to me that the “one brute positive fact” then becomes simply that there is something, rather than nothing. Why does this need explanation? Why can it not simply be left as a brute fact?

    A great deal of metaphysics seems to me to be based on our willingness to entertain (whatever) speculations in order to avoid accepting a brute fact as such.

    I’m not convinced that the question, “Why is there something, rather than nothing?” is any more meaningful than the question, “Why do living beings die?”. At least not so that I am willing to wander into metaphysical speculations in order to answer it. If I have explained biologically the cause(s) of death, then that is all the explanation that there is.

    That is where, as Wittgenstein said, we need to learn to—stop. Or at least admit that beyond that point, we are just making things up (or accepting what others before us have made up).
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    13 Jul '07 00:405 edits
    Originally posted by vistesd
    I’ve never quite understood your objection here—if it is an objection.
    It's not an objection that I endorse because, although I think it's true that a brute fact remains, that should only concern us if we adhere to some strong version of the principle of sufficient reason. And I don't see any reasons to think we should do that. I don't see anything wrong with such a brute fact.

    Ultimately, I think just about any reasonable formulation of the Cos. Arg. will boil down the to PSR. And I think also there are just no "satisfactory" answers.

    ----
    To put my first response in some context, knightmeister and I already had a lengthy discussion over exactly this point about origins, and I'm betting he remembers that, so I didn't bother to lay any background or groundwork. My problem with KM in that discussion centered around a strong version of the PSR and whether or not KM could give me reasons for thinking it true. Even though, at the end of the day, KM and I were largely in agreement there. And probably here too, but I'm still frustrated that he goes out of his way to shriek and scream that my compatibilist view is false just because it is not a libertarian view. If he wants to start up a thread and assert that free will is inexplicable (as he's already done that btw), then he should limit the discussion explicitly to libertarianism being that he cannot bring any non-question-begging arguments at all against compatibilism.
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    13 Jul '07 01:14
    Look, I've had enough anyway. Knightmeister, if you want to simply amend your first post to reflect that the 'free will' you're talking about is libertarian, then I don't have a problem with this thread.
  10. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Jul '07 01:36
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    It's not an objection that I endorse because, although I think it's true that a brute fact remains, that should only concern us if we adhere to some strong version of the principle of sufficient reason. And I don't see any reasons to think we should do that. I don't see anything wrong with such a brute fact.

    Ultimately, I think just a ...[text shortened]... that he cannot bring any non-question-begging arguments at all against compatibilism.
    It's not an objection that I endorse because, although I think it's true that a brute fact remains, that should only concern us if we adhere to some strong version of the principle of sufficient reason. And I don't see any reasons to think we should do that. I don't see anything wrong with such a brute fact.

    Gotcha. I think that I have implicitly rejected any such version of PSR ever since our discussions way back about the cosmological argument. I suspect that I have done so because it simply seems to leads to metaphysical speculation when applied to the question of “cosmogony.”

    Ultimately, I think just about any reasonable formulation of the Cos. Arg. will boil down the to PSR. And I think also there are just no "satisfactory" answers.

    Agreed. I’m not sure that the question itself makes any real sense, insofar as human sense-making ability (cognitive capacity) is concerned.
  11. Standard memberknightmeister
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    13 Jul '07 08:26
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    By the way, this bit is question begging. Surprise, surprise.
    Maybe you would like to say what question it is begging? To me most posts beg a question of some type anyway.
  12. Standard memberknightmeister
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    13 Jul '07 08:271 edit
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Look, I've had enough anyway. Knightmeister, if you want to simply amend your first post to reflect that the 'free will' you're talking about is libertarian, then I don't have a problem with this thread.
    My my , you are awfuly impatient aren't you. I've hardly responded to anything you have said yet on this thread and you've "had enough"???

    The way I read this post it was almost as if you thought visted was me!
  13. Standard memberknightmeister
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    13 Jul '07 08:32
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    It's not an objection that I endorse because, although I think it's true that a brute fact remains, that should only concern us if we adhere to some strong version of the principle of sufficient reason. And I don't see any reasons to think we should do that. I don't see anything wrong with such a brute fact.

    Ultimately, I think just a ...[text shortened]... that he cannot bring any non-question-begging arguments at all against compatibilism.
    And probably here too, but I'm still frustrated that he goes out of his way to shriek and scream that my compatibilist view is false just because it is not a libertarian view. LEMON

    Whereas infact what I have been doing is trying to draw out what the logical implications of compatabilism is and whether compatabilists can actually live by them or hold them to be true.
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    13 Jul '07 09:101 edit
    Most of knightmeister's post seems to assume that the universe is known to be causal in nature. This is simply not true. At the quantum level, particle positions are essentially random. There may be a reason (cause) for their positions but it is not known whether there is and the actual result is indistinguishable from a situation where there is no known cause. The overall result of this is that it is actually impossible to trace all events back in time. An interesting outcome of quantum physics is that if you cannot tell which route a particle took when traveling from A to B then it actually took all possible routes.

    I also don't see the difference between knightmeister's "incoherent" and and "I don't know". Is he saying:
    1. "there is a cause but we don't know what it is"
    2. "there is a cause and we cannot know what it is"
    3. "there is no cause and I cant understand that concept"

    Essentially the cause chain paradox that he is struggling with is a fundamental aspect of life. If you ask 'why' about anything then the answer will always beg another 'why'. To state that some things 'just are' or what visted called a 'brute fact' also begs the question 'why?' even if there is no answer. I think however knightmeisters problem is the assumption based on his world view that there must be an answer to 'why' though his suggestion that some things may be incoherent seems to be an admission or realization that there may not always be an answer to 'why'.

    I think however that the key flaw in his reasoning and in any 'first cause' argument is the assumption that everything in the universe has an answer to 'why' and that the 'why' chain must be traced outside the universe before it stops or becomes 'incoherent'.

    The other overlooked fact is that of infinity. Infinity is a hard concept to comprehend and is almost always overlooked when it comes to the 'why' chain problem (or the 'first cause' argument). For some reason it is always assumed that an infinite 'why' chain is simply not possible. What is also overlooked is what are known in mathematics as 'uncountable infinities' such as the set of real numbers between 0 and 1. People tend to assume that all infinities are unbounded and that a bound necessarily means finite which is simply not true.
  15. Standard memberknightmeister
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    13 Jul '07 15:12
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Most of knightmeister's post seems to assume that the universe is known to be causal in nature. This is simply not true. At the quantum level, particle positions are essentially random. There may be a reason (cause) for their positions but it is not known whether there is and the actual result is indistinguishable from a situation where there is no known ...[text shortened]... necessarily means finite which is simply not true.
    I also don't see the difference between knightmeister's "incoherent" and and "I don't know". Is he saying:
    1. "there is a cause but we don't know what it is"
    2. "there is a cause and we cannot know what it is"
    3. "there is no cause and I cant understand that concept" Whitey

    No I am saying...

    ........4. There is no cause for some things and that is essentially mysterious and incoherent so therefore if incoherence is essentially an unavoidable part of existence why does something being incoherent (mystetrious) automatically mean that it is false. The premise ' all things that are true must be coherent' is not proven.
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