Laws of science and nature Question

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Laws of science and nature Question

Postby MiketheTyke on October 30th, 2018, 8:26 am 

Most scientists seem to agree with the Laws of science and laws of nature.
Who do they think made those laws?

You simply cannot have laws without a lawmaker

Maybe they will they argue that they all "evolved"???
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Forest_Dump on October 30th, 2018, 9:18 am 

Ultimately I think it is more of a language issue. Way back in the day, Compte did call them laws because he believed there was a God who was the law maker and this also gave legitimacy to earthly kings and their laws. However today we give less credence to the power of earthly kings and many doubt the existence of a deity. So if the term "law of science" or nature, etc., causes this kind of logical semantic problem for you, don't call them laws, call them observed regularities or something else.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on October 30th, 2018, 12:46 pm 

Yes, I think you’ve got it exactly right. See here for an in-depth discussion.

From the linked article:

Even as recently as the Eighteenth Century, we find philosophers (e.g. Montesquieu) explicitly attributing the order in nature to the hand of God, more specifically to His having imposed physical laws on nature in much the same way as He imposed moral laws on human beings. There was one essential difference, however. Human beings – it was alleged – are "free" to break (act contrary to) God's moral laws; but neither human beings nor the other parts of creation are free to break God's physical laws.

In the Twentieth Century virtually all scientists and philosophers have abandoned theistic elements in their accounts of the Laws of Nature. But to a very great extent – so say the Regularists – the Necessitarians have merely replaced God with Physical Necessity. The Necessitarians' nontheistic view of Laws of Nature surreptitiously preserves the older prescriptivist view of Laws of Nature, namely, as dictates or edicts to the natural universe, edicts which – unlike moral laws or legislated ones – no one, and no thing, has the ability to violate.

Regularists reject this view of the world. Regularists eschew a view of Laws of Nature which would make of them inviolable edicts imposed on the universe. Such a view, Regularists claim, is simply a holdover from a theistic view. It is time, they insist, to adopt a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy of science, one which is not only purged of the hand of God, but is also purged of its unempirical latter-day surrogate, namely, nomological necessity. The difference is, perhaps, highlighted most strongly in Necessitarians saying that the Laws of Nature govern the world; while Regularists insist that Laws of Nature do no more or less than correctly describe the world.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby MiketheTyke on October 31st, 2018, 6:19 am 

It is not a question of language it is true.
Calling them Laws gives them legitimacy so people accept themas such.

You simply cannot have laws without a lawmaker.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Forest_Dump on October 31st, 2018, 8:26 am 

With all due respect, while I agree that they appear to be true (although granted we can never be 100% certain what might have happened 1 million years ago, for example) I don't see why something like "gravity" needs any kind of legitimacy from us. Rocks trees and birds have no word for it and yet they are just as subject to it. So yes calling them laws will, for some, imply a law maker but there is still no necessity to call them laws or carry that implication. Call them statistical regularities or dingi and nothing changes. If you want or need for some reason to imply a law maker, etc., that is your own concern but there really is no necessity to do this based on what you imply from science or nature.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on October 31st, 2018, 8:42 am 

MiketheTyke » October 31st, 2018, 6:19 am wrote:It is not a question of language it is true.
Calling them Laws gives them legitimacy so people accept themas such.

You simply cannot have laws without a lawmaker.


You're right. The law was created. Not the actual happening or occurrence of the physical phenomenon was created, but calling it "law" was created by man.

Before man, after man, and during man (man's existence) the physical phenomena caused by what we call "laws of nature" will be occurring and happening without interruption. The "law" stands as long as man stands, or those men and women stand, who call the causational relationships involved in physical phenomena "laws".

You, MiketheTyke, are one of those men. You certainly seem to have some emotional and by osmosis, intellectual investment in this thought. So be it. Just please don't spread false ideas. That is punished, at least according to some faiths, by a higher power.

Just accept, please, that "law" is a man-made expression for man's perception of something that is, among other things, independent of creation, independent of man's belief.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on October 31st, 2018, 8:55 am 

Even as recently as the Eighteenth Century, we find philosophers (e.g. Montesquieu) explicitly attributing the order in nature to the hand of God, more specifically to His having imposed physical laws on nature in much the same way as He imposed moral laws on human beings. There was one essential difference, however. Human beings – it was alleged – are "free" to break (act contrary to) God's moral laws; but neither human beings nor the other parts of creation are free to break God's physical laws.

In the Twentieth Century virtually all scientists and philosophers have abandoned theistic elements in their accounts of the Laws of Nature. But to a very great extent – so say the Regularists – the Necessitarians have merely replaced God with Physical Necessity. The Necessitarians' nontheistic view of Laws of Nature surreptitiously preserves the older prescriptivist view of Laws of Nature, namely, as dictates or edicts to the natural universe, edicts which – unlike moral laws or legislated ones – no one, and no thing, has the ability to violate.

Regularists reject this view of the world. Regularists eschew a view of Laws of Nature which would make of them inviolable edicts imposed on the universe. Such a view, Regularists claim, is simply a holdover from a theistic view. It is time, they insist, to adopt a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy of science, one which is not only purged of the hand of God, but is also purged of its unempirical latter-day surrogate, namely, nomological necessity. The difference is, perhaps, highlighted most strongly in Necessitarians saying that the Laws of Nature govern the world; while Regularists insist that Laws of Nature do no more or less than correctly describe the world.


Oops. I side with the Necessitists. Laws of nature (if you want to call them that) are sought after by man's research. Laws may or may not be inviolable; ultimately, all laws as described by man-created sciences are inviolable, if humans ever get to the point of knowledge base where the most general description of phenomena truly describe phenomena. We are not there yet, clearly.

But to say that laws do NOT govern the world is a way of saying that we don't know what the forces of determinism are; furthermore it say that there are no deterministic causation going on. It says the agents, the actors, the causational relationships that are necessary for determinism to stand are not only not known to man, but saying laws do not govern, means that these causational sources or regulations on causations do not exist even outside man's realm of knowledge.

And science depends on the notion of determinism.

So I believe that the Regularists are wrong in assuming that there are no inviolable laws. If they say there are, but we haven't got to know them yet, right, yes, I agree. But they are not saying that.

00000000000

The quote may need to be reassessed, because, sadly, it does not make a clear and distinct separation between WHAT IS and what man's perception of that "WHAT" is. It hopelessly mixes up the two, and hence, the meaning is convoluted, and furthermore, wrong.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby MiketheTyke on October 31st, 2018, 9:40 am 

There is a lot of ducking /diving/hedging and generally avoiding responding to the legitimate statement above.

It is clear that laws are created, they do not create themselves, there would be more being created all the time..... and we would be on the discovery trail all the time.

It is wrong to respond according to your refusal to believe in the truth if it doesn't suit you. that is really unscientific.

Nothing makes itself or as above there would be new creation all the time, looking for them would give many scientists a useful job for a change.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on October 31st, 2018, 9:58 am 

-1- » October 31st, 2018, 6:55 am wrote:
Oops. I side with the Necessitists. Laws of nature (if you want to call them that) are sought after by man's research. Laws may or may not be inviolable; ultimately, all laws as described by man-created sciences are inviolable ...


The author of the linked piece, Norman Swartz, addresses the point as follows:

It's true that you cannot "violate" a law of nature, but that's not because the laws of nature 'force' you to behave in some certain way. It is rather that whatever you do, there is a true description of what you have done. You certainly don't get to choose the laws that describe the charge on an electron or the properties of hydrogen and oxygen that explain their combining to form water. But you do get to choose a great many other laws. How do you do that? Simply by doing whatever you do in fact do.

For example, if you were to choose(!) to raise your arm, then there would be a timelessly true universal description (let's call it “D4729”) of what you have done. If, however, you were to choose not to raise your arm, then there would be a (different) timelessly true universal description (we can call it “D5322”) of what you did (and D4729 would be timelessly false).

Contrary to the Necessitarians' claim – that the laws of nature are not of our choosing – Regularists argue that a very great many laws of nature are of our choosing. But it's not that you reflect on choosing the laws. You don't wake up in the morning and ask yourself "Which laws of nature will I create today?" No, it's rather that you ask yourself, "What will I do today?", and in choosing to do some things rather than others, your actions – that is, your choices – make certain propositions (including some universal statements containing no proper names) true and other propositions false.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on October 31st, 2018, 10:00 am 

MiketheTyke » October 31st, 2018, 7:40 am wrote:There is a lot of ducking /diving/hedging and generally avoiding responding to the legitimate statement above.

It is clear that laws are created, they do not create themselves, there would be more being created all the time.....


Yes, see Swartz's analysis posted above.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on October 31st, 2018, 10:01 am 

MiketheTyke » October 31st, 2018, 7:40 am wrote:There is a lot of ducking /diving/hedging and generally avoiding responding to the legitimate statement above.

It is clear that laws are created, they do not create themselves, there would be more being created all the time..... and we would be on the discovery trail all the time.

It is wrong to respond according to your refusal to believe in the truth if it doesn't suit you. that is really unscientific.

Nothing makes itself or as above there would be new creation all the time, looking for them would give many scientists a useful job for a change.


It seems clear that you have not read the piece to which I have linked. Perhaps you should do that, before repeating your unevidenced claims that there must be a lawmaker.

There are, in a sense, "lawmakers," according to Swartz, in that, as he says, humans can make their own laws, simply by doing, what they do. But the point is, these so-called "laws" that humans make are merely true descriptions of what they in fact do. And the "laws" of nature are simply true descriptions of nature's regularities.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Forest_Dump on October 31st, 2018, 10:07 am 

Since there appears to be some risk that this could go off the rails I will simply point out that I see no absolute necessity to call them "laws" if that leads to metaphysical conclusions that are not warrented. I use the term often just as a semantic shorthand to mean regularities of observation that best used in a mechanistic kind of way. I don't see any necessity to use that term to imply a God or deity any more than arguing that 1 + 1 always equals 2 would. But if that works for you than salute. Whatever works for you I guess. But personally if I were to look for some verification for a religious belief, I would want something more than a verbal trick. But some seem to be happy with pondering the question of the southern do of one hand clapping. To each their own.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Braininvat on October 31st, 2018, 10:10 am 

MikeT ---- We do ask members to read citations that are responsive to their posts. It's one of our, erm, laws.

Also, be careful of the semantics trap of conflating human administrative laws with observed regularities in nature that sometimes are referred to as laws. In science, the word law does not carry the same implications of a lawmaker. This chat illustrates why precise definition of terms is so important in philosophy.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Forest_Dump on October 31st, 2018, 10:52 am 

The argument is a classic example of a "God of the gaps" argument but I think can also be thought of asomething a simple switching of questions with conclusions. Those who initially called them "laws" did intend to imply that there was a law maker. However just because they said that there is no necessary implication that they were correct (after all, I am sure we can all agree that they were wrong about many other things back in the 19th century and earlier). So instead of simply concluding that these regularities are best called "laws" why not turn it into a question? Why not raise a few simple arguments for why they might be best called "laws"?
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on October 31st, 2018, 11:45 am 

Swartz, in the linked article, advises that “laws” of nature be taken in the spirit of Gresham’s “law” — that bad money drives out good.

Nothing forces this to happen — it’s not really a law in the sense of an edict. It’s just a verifiable description of human behavior that occurs under certain economic circumstances.

Take the second “law” of thermodynamics. Nothing forces, compels or requires an increase in entropy. It’s just that there are so many more ways for systems to be disordered than they are ordered. Hence we expect disorder, but spontaneous arisings of order are not precluded.

The “law” of gravity “obeys” inverse square. But this is just a geometrical phenomenon, not an “edict.” If there were four spatial dimensions instead of three, gravity would be described according to the inverse cube.

Light travels at c. Is there some law that compels this? But everything travels at c, through spacetime together. The only difference between photons and everything with rest mass is that light’s motion is entirely through space and none of it through time. Nothing here seems to require any lawmaker, or any laws at all, in the sense of “edicts.” If one wishes to take the block world view of things, nothing has motion at all, including light! There are just existent and unchanging world tubes.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Forest_Dump on October 31st, 2018, 11:48 am 

To me there just seems to be too much emotional investment in one three letter word: laws. Reminds me of an old Hee Hawaii joke.

Doctor doctor! I broke my arm in three places. What should I do?

Stay out of those places!

Rewritten:

Doctor doctor. Calling observational regularities laws implies a law maker. What should I do?

Call them something else!
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby bangstrom on October 31st, 2018, 12:14 pm 

MiketheTyke » October 30th, 2018, 7:26 am wrote:
You simply cannot have laws without a lawmaker


The question is endless. You simply can not have a law-maker without a law-maker-maker and you can not have a law-maker-maker without a...
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on October 31st, 2018, 4:41 pm 

MiketheTyke » October 31st, 2018, 9:40 am wrote:There is a lot of ducking /diving/hedging and generally avoiding responding to the legitimate statement above.

It is clear that laws are created, they do not create themselves, there would be more being created all the time..... and we would be on the discovery trail all the time.

It is wrong to respond according to your refusal to believe in the truth if it doesn't suit you. that is really unscientific.

Nothing makes itself or as above there would be new creation all the time, looking for them would give many scientists a useful job for a change.


You are actually right. There would be laws created if laws hadn't existed from time immemorial.

There are two ways of looking at this. Scientifically speaking. One is that there is a creator, who preceded in existence all matter and all laws. Then that creator created laws and matter.

The other is that laws and matter have always existed, they were not created.

Which of the two you choose, is up to you, the individual. Both views are viable, and equally probable. People normally believe in one or the other. But philosophically speaking, neither is superior or inferior to the other one. There are no arguments on either side that make one or the other view necessarily true, or necessarily false.

I don't know if you, MiketheTyke, can accept this. If you can't, fine. But I ask you to please not to repeat the same argument incessantly... your concept is simple enough so that we can understand it. Your claim could be described as this: Laws exist, therefore they must have been created. End of claim.

Fine. But who created the creator? And who created the creator's creator? Those are equally important and impotent thoughts to think about.

For a scientist, it does not matter whether laws were created or have been around forever. The scientist simply wants to uncover them.

To the philosopher it may make a difference whether laws have been created or have been around for ever, but that is not a question anyone can decide.

To this day there are no clues other than in the scriptures that there was a creator; and there are no clues against it either, except that the possibility of no creator gained widespread acceptance. Prior to some point in time in the past, nobody could even conceive that there was no creator. Now we have people who not only are able to conceive that (unlike you), but some of these people do not accept the theory that there was a creator and creation of matter and laws happened.

Interestingly... interestingly, neither the Bible, nor the Holy Koran alludes to laws, physical laws, as the creation of the creator. That laws were created, is an extension but it is an inference, it is not written.

So maybe, just maybe, if you follow the holy scriptures of Christianity, Judaism or the Islam, then to you it must not be a strange an unnatural thing to accept that there are physical laws that were not created by anyone or by anything.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on October 31st, 2018, 9:51 pm 

davidm » October 31st, 2018, 9:58 am wrote:
It's true that you cannot "violate" a law of nature, but that's not because the laws of nature 'force' you to behave in some certain way. It is rather that whatever you do, there is a true description of what you have done. You certainly don't get to choose the laws that describe the charge on an electron or the properties of hydrogen and oxygen that explain their combining to form water. But you do get to choose a great many other laws. How do you do that? Simply by doing whatever you do in fact do.

For example, if you were to choose(!) to raise your arm, then there would be a timelessly true universal description (let's call it “D4729”) of what you have done. If, however, you were to choose not to raise your arm, then there would be a (different) timelessly true universal description (we can call it “D5322”) of what you did (and D4729 would be timelessly false).

Contrary to the Necessitarians' claim – that the laws of nature are not of our choosing – Regularists argue that a very great many laws of nature are of our choosing. But it's not that you reflect on choosing the laws. You don't wake up in the morning and ask yourself "Which laws of nature will I create today?" No, it's rather that you ask yourself, "What will I do today?", and in choosing to do some things rather than others, your actions – that is, your choices – make certain propositions (including some universal statements containing no proper names) true and other propositions false.


Schwartz confuses the issue even further. He says you can choose which laws to obey, but he says you can't choose which laws to disobey. Well, that does not contradict the Regularists' claim, that you can't disobey any of the natural laws. Schwarts simply misinterprets "choosing" of laws. You can't pick and choose which to obey and which to disobey; you can't disobey any. While you obey those that are conducive to your choice of actions. Schwartz words it in a bit of a slippery way, but he is not contradicting the Necessitists.

When Nessitists claim "the laws of nature are not of our choosing" they mean the laws can't be influenced to work other ways than how they work. We did not choose gravity to attract bodies. We did not choose to be born. We did not choose the weather to be nice today or to be bad today. But Schwartz makes a literal interpretation, which states, for instance, that you choose the law of gravitation when you drop a coin into a wishing well.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 1st, 2018, 7:57 am 

bangstrom » October 31st, 2018, 8:14 pm wrote:
MiketheTyke » October 30th, 2018, 7:26 am wrote:
You simply cannot have laws without a lawmaker


The question is endless. You simply can not have a law-maker without a law-maker-maker and you can not have a law-maker-maker without a...


"You can't have laws without a law-maker".

Replace laws with "observed regularities."

Then it is "You cannot have regularities without a regulator." And on and on it goes.

MiketheTyke » October 31st, 2018, 5:40 pm wrote:There is a lot of ducking /diving/hedging and generally avoiding responding to the legitimate statement above.

It is clear that laws are created, they do not create themselves, there would be more being created all the time..... and we would be on the discovery trail all the time.

It is wrong to respond according to your refusal to believe in the truth if it doesn't suit you. that is really unscientific.
Unscientific. Aha. There it is.

So Leibniz gave us this maxim called the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The principle states that if anything in the world is found to be in such a way, there is a reason that it is that way. I'm trying to paraphrase it but Leibniz himself said it best in his own words.

sufficient reason, by virtue of which we consider that we can find no true or existent fact, no true assertion, without there being a sufficient reason why it is thus and not otherwise, although most of the time these reasons cannot be known to us.

Leibniz elevated this principle to the same ironclad level as the Principle of Excluded Middle from logic. You have invoked this principle at the logical level in your ultimatum here : "..your refusal to believe in the truth if it doesn't suit you..." It is true that this principle was ironclad during the Enlightenment. For example, Benjamin Franklin was a deist, and when deists declared that God must have been the prime mover who must have placed the whole universe into motion, they did not decide these things from a religious fervor. Franklin and the deists believed they were being completely logical in stating such. In this sense, the Principle of Sufficient Reason is appropriately associated with science. You have expressed this with your lashing out at the forum for being "unscientific".

In the 21st century we have become very sophisticated about science and the Enlightenment, because hindsight is 20/20. We have certain ways and phrases we use today. In regards to this issue, the watchword to be on the lookout for : Brute Fact. We can have discussion, argument, or debate about the origins of the laws of physics, and always haunting them is this issue of Brute Facts.

There was a time about approx 50, 60 years ago when it was an intellectual foul to invoke a Brute Fact. (actually I think Carl Sagan derided Brute Facts on TV as being superstitious-- someone check me on that one.) It was likely that Brute Facts were largely considered a violation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. On some days, I would even go as far as to say that POSR excludes the possibility of the existence of any Brute Fact, full stop.

As of late, we have gone back on this -- and the reason why is somewhat shocking. It was the science of Big Bang Cosmology that began to become comfortable with invoking Brute Facts. If you think about the history, Big Bang Cosmology did not become mainstream until after World War II. So we are basically talking post-1950s intellectual trends here. In particular, I would point out Sean Carroll, a cosmologist himself, who is aware that he is invoking Brute Facts when talking about the oldest mysteries of existence.

I think a worthy use of one's time would be to research the turbulent decades when the Big Bang was being hashed out, in order to uncover what the heck they began to see that caused scientists to abandon POSR. This is a difficult task, because the bulk of literature on the topic is Carroll and Hawking and other guys (Krauss) who tend to spout speculation as fact.

Here is a person (in this very thread) invoking the brute fact : "Laws and matter have always existed".
There are two ways of looking at this. Scientifically speaking. One is that there is a creator, who preceded in existence all matter and all laws. Then that creator created laws and matter. The other is that laws and matter have always existed, they were not created. Which of the two you choose, is up to you, the individual.


In any case, there was turbulence. And all these have been investigated and entertained. I am not advocating any of these, but merely listing them to indicate how turbulent the intellectual landscape has been:

1.
Time began at the BB, therefore you cannot refer to a "before".

2.
The universe has always existed, but not in the steady-state manner.

3.
The universe is cyclic in a bang-and-crunch cycle that never ends.

4.
Every black hole spawns a new universe on the 'other side' The laws of physics are slightly different in each of the spawned universes. (Lee Smolin).

5.
The Universe is far larger than the human mind can comprehend. Our observable universe is a tiny patch on one "bubble". The bubbles form bubbles ad infinitum. If you go far enough onto another bubble, the laws of physics are different there. ( Alan Guth and Andre Linde)

6.
Universe is one "sheet" in a bulk. Each universe "worldsheet" has different physics. (Brian Greene, possibly Susskind)

When the dust cleared from all this drama, we found that Leibniz's POSR got trampled somewhere.


However, the occasional maverick blogger, who publicly claims things like, "Inflationary Cosmology is not science!!" This actually happened recently, and it invoked an angry retort letter that was signed by 30+ prestigious cosmologists and physicists.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 1st, 2018, 9:41 am 

-1- » October 31st, 2018, 7:51 pm wrote:
Schwartz confuses the issue even further. He says you can choose which laws to obey, but he says you can't choose which laws to disobey. Well, that does not contradict the Regularists' claim, that you can't disobey any of the natural laws. Schwarts simply misinterprets "choosing" of laws. You can't pick and choose which to obey and which to disobey; you can't disobey any. While you obey those that are conducive to your choice of actions. Schwartz words it in a bit of a slippery way, but he is not contradicting the Necessitists.

When Nessitists claim "the laws of nature are not of our choosing" they mean the laws can't be influenced to work other ways than how they work. We did not choose gravity to attract bodies. We did not choose to be born. We did not choose the weather to be nice today or to be bad today. But Schwartz makes a literal interpretation, which states, for instance, that you choose the law of gravitation when you drop a coin into a wishing well.


I think you’ve misread Swartz somewhat. He argues that what we call “laws” are timelessly true universal statements about what happens in the world. This relies on the correspondence or Tarskian theory of truth, in which truth inheres in propositional descriptive statements about the world.

On this account, to take Swartz’s example, if we raise an arm, there is a timelessly true universal statement describing that act, and hence it is just as much a “law” as anything else. In that sense only, we can “make” a law, just by choosing to do, what we do. The world does not take its truth from laws, but rather laws take their truths from the world.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 1st, 2018, 10:01 am 

hyksos » November 1st, 2018, 5:57 am wrote:
So Leibniz gave us this maxim called the Principle of Sufficient Reason.


It seems quantum mechanics alone discredits the principle of sufficient reason.

OTOH, there are those who claim that QM covertly incorporates the thesis of superdeterminism, which I take to be an attempted rebuttal to the Strong Free Will Theorem. On this account, as I understand it, QM is fully deterministic, even without MWI, but scientists are (superdeterministically!) precluded from ever conducting an experiment to prove this! I find this idea beyond strange, but Sabine Hossenfelder seems to go for it, for some reason.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Braininvat on November 1st, 2018, 11:59 am 

On this account, to take Swartz’s example, if we raise an arm, there is a timelessly true universal statement describing that act, and hence it is just as much a “law” as anything else. In that sense only, we can “make” a law, just by choosing to do, what we do. The world does not take its truth from laws, but rather laws take their truths from the world.


Which usage of "law," if we change to "perceived regularities that consistently conform to a pattern that may be abstractly rendered," makes the last sentence pretty freaking obvious. (and pompous as hell) Or, more simply, scientific "laws" are empirical. As Hyksos pointed to, you can tweak this until it becomes tautological.

The difference between the conventional meaning of "law," and the meaning used in science, is akin to the difference between Napoleonic Codes and British Common Law.

Am not too familiar with superdeterminism, so I thank you, David, for referencing that.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 1st, 2018, 1:24 pm 

davidm » November 1st, 2018, 9:41 am wrote:
-1- » October 31st, 2018, 7:51 pm wrote:
Schwartz confuses the issue even further. He says you can choose which laws to obey, but he says you can't choose which laws to disobey. Well, that does not contradict the Regularists' claim, that you can't disobey any of the natural laws. Schwarts simply misinterprets "choosing" of laws. You can't pick and choose which to obey and which to disobey; you can't disobey any. While you obey those that are conducive to your choice of actions. Schwartz words it in a bit of a slippery way, but he is not contradicting the Necessitists.

When Nessitists claim "the laws of nature are not of our choosing" they mean the laws can't be influenced to work other ways than how they work. We did not choose gravity to attract bodies. We did not choose to be born. We did not choose the weather to be nice today or to be bad today. But Schwartz makes a literal interpretation, which states, for instance, that you choose the law of gravitation when you drop a coin into a wishing well.


I think you’ve misread Swartz somewhat. He argues that what we call “laws” are timelessly true universal statements about what happens in the world. This relies on the correspondence or Tarskian theory of truth, in which truth inheres in propositional descriptive statements about the world.

On this account, to take Swartz’s example, if we raise an arm, there is a timelessly true universal statement describing that act, and hence it is just as much a “law” as anything else. In that sense only, we can “make” a law, just by choosing to do, what we do. The world does not take its truth from laws, but rather laws take their truths from the world.


Yes, I did misread Schwartz somewhat. I am hung up on "choosing the laws", and Schwartz went on to say that everything observed can be turned into a law.

I differ with that view, too. I believe that laws of nature are man's perceptions, and man is able to categorize forces of nature correctly, which in turn can be distilled to be laws of nature.

To call everything we perceive "law" is in my opinion wrong. It is true that the natural laws we consider to be laws are obtained by observation. But not everything we observe can become a law.

I sort of have the viewpoint that ideally in the knowledge of all true laws, (not the approximation of laws we humans have mustered up and are capable of mustering up, but laws that are governing pivotal causational relationships in the movements of matter), and in the knowledge of all matter, the course of the universe can be charted, from infinite past, to infinite future.

Look at the Bing Bang theory. It has been calculated, not observed, but it has been calculated using laws that we know, and using the present state of the universe.

Look at the movement of stars, as Galileo saw them. He (or scientists coming soon after him) was able to predict when a full solar eclipse could be expected to happen. He calculated that from the present state of the universe then, and the laws of movements of celestial bodies.

The role of science is to observe and report, and to discover causational relationships. Raising your left arm, or raising your right arm, does satisfy the observe-and-report, but there is nothing causational you can derive from simply raising your arm, left or right.

If you want to assert that I don't know what Schwartz meant by the example of raising your right arm and raising your left, and how that creates a law, then you got the right assertion. I don't understand where he is coming from with that, what he is doing with it, and where he is going to with it. I simply can't comprehend his example's significance.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 1st, 2018, 2:11 pm 

I think where he’s going with it is this: he writes that what we call the “laws” of nature are a (subclass) of all true descriptive propositions about the world. I take it he uses the word “subclass” to distinguish features of the world that exhibit (so far) invariant regularities that can be mathematically described, from those features, like my raising an arm, that do not exhibit such invariant regularities, and hence presumably can’t be mathematically described.

This distinction may be crucial, but I think Swartz is trying to deflate the distinction, not so much by elevating raising one’s arm to the status of a law, but rather by reducing the invariant “laws” to just another set of true propositions that describe the world, rather than prescribe anything.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 1st, 2018, 3:03 pm 

davidm » November 1st, 2018, 2:11 pm wrote:I think where he’s going with it is this: he writes that what we call the “laws” of nature are a (subclass) of all true descriptive propositions about the world. I take it he uses the word “subclass” to distinguish features of the world that exhibit (so far) invariant regularities that can be mathematically described, from those features, like my raising an arm, that do not exhibit such invariant regularities, and hence presumably can’t be mathematically described.

This distinction may be crucial, but I think Swartz is trying to deflate the distinction, not so much by elevating raising one’s arm to the status of a law, but rather by reducing the invariant “laws” to just another set of true propositions that describe the world, rather than prescribe anything.


Thanks, DavidM. This is what I had thought Schwartz was saying. But I could not believe he'd be so stupid as to say something like this.

Laws are not simply invariant regularities. They are predictors as well. They are invariant and regular enough so man can establish dependence on those. If I raise my left arm, and then my right, you don't know, nobody knows, what the next move of me will be: raise left leg, go have breakfast, or dance the night away.

Schwartz simply extrapolated from the observation and description not toward uncovering causalities and distillating that to predictable things, laws, but toward anything that is unique within a limited realm. But not toward anything that is invariant and regular.

I don't think his example exemplifies "invariant regularity". He fails to show that with the arm-raising exercise. If indeed raising my right and raising my left would be invariant and regular, then it could be a law pertaining to -1- . If it was invariant and regular to all humans, it would be an anthropological law. If all mammals raised their left forelimb then the right, then... and so on.

But what Schwartz described, or rather, brought up as an example, is neither invariant, nor regular.

So if Schwartz did not stipulate invariability and regularity and did not incorporate that into his example of raised arms, and that was simply your addition, DavidM, then Schwartz meant something else which I still don't understand for its meaning.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 1st, 2018, 3:11 pm 

Schwartz may have been right in trying to exemplify that there are broader applications to our established (known) laws that belie them. But his example was too childish. That's A. And B. is that he described MAN's knowledge, not ultimate predictors. (Incidentally, this was my first and gravest criticism of Schwartz: that he indiscriminately confuses laws as known by man, with laws that are ultimately true (assumedly).)

Whether ultimate predictors of causalities exist or not, such as gravity, which man has nailed down pretty good to date, is not for man to know. For man to do is to assume that such ultimate predictors exist, and that science can uncover them. In fact, this is one of the cornerstones of the philosophy of science. The cornerstones are these assumptions: reality exists; reality can be detected; reality can be known; and what we detect is reality, and what we know is knowledge over reality.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 1st, 2018, 3:21 pm 

hyksos » November 1st, 2018, 7:57 am wrote:1.
Time began at the BB, therefore you cannot refer to a "before".

Please explain the "no before".

In my view space is three-dimensional, if you want to use a Cartesian coordinate system to describe it. There is no end in any direction you travel in space. It is infinite.

To me time is similar. There is no "beginning" time, as matter does not define time, much like matter does not define space. Matter occupies space and happens in time.

So to say that there was no time before the Bing Bang, you deny the above, and I don't believe you got that right.

IF, however, you say there was no time before the BB, and you do not deny the infiniteness of time and space, then I would like to see your explanation of reconciling the two (no time before bb and time being infinite both in the past and in the future.)
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 1st, 2018, 3:25 pm 

I’m sorry you call Swartz stupid. :-/

I wonder, did you read the whole article?
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 1st, 2018, 3:34 pm 

-1- » November 1st, 2018, 1:21 pm wrote:
hyksos » November 1st, 2018, 7:57 am wrote:1.
Time began at the BB, therefore you cannot refer to a "before".

Please explain the "no before".


If the universe began at the Big Bang, then there is no "before" the BB, in the same way, by analogy as I believe Hawking said, that there is no "north" of the North Pole.
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