Laws of science and nature Question

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

Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 1st, 2018, 3:51 pm 

-1-,

Let me try it a different way around. Swartz is not denying that there are different classes of events that are described by true propositions — it is why he used the word “subclass.” Some of these events occur sporadically. Some occur regularly. Some occur so regularly that they have never been observed not to occur (the invariant speed of light, the falling of bodies according to well-documented mathematical descriptions, etc.) And from these you can make predictions and retrodictions (always subject to Hume’s caution about induction).

What he is denying is that there is some nomicity — physical necessity, or governing law — that covers the invariant regular events, but fails to cover the events that do not occur regularly, or may only occur once.

Notice that if there were such a nomicity, then raising one’s arm would also be covered — compelled — by such laws (this is hard determinism), though tracing the Laplacean chain of this nomicity would be well-nigh impossible. Swartz denies that there is any such thing, and I agree with him. The really interesting point here is that if this is right, the entire alleged incompatibility between determinism and free will is eliminated. He devotes considerably more attention to this matter in one of his books.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 2nd, 2018, 11:11 pm 

davidm » November 1st, 2018, 3:51 pm wrote:-1-,

What he is denying is that there is some nomicity — physical necessity, or governing law — that covers the invariant regular events, but fails to cover the events that do not occur regularly, or may only occur once.

Notice that if there were such a nomicity,



Dear DavidM,


Thanks you, Thank you, Thank you.

I actually very much agree with this:

What Schwartz is denying is that there is some nomicity — physical necessity, or governing law — that covers the invariant regular events, but fails to cover the events that do not occur regularly, or may only occur once.

However, I deny that he said this in the previous quote I read by him, and I deny that the previous quote has this meaning in it.

But if this is what you got out of Schwartz, (in my opinion erroneously, or extracullicularly, as in your possibly having read this outside the text quoted in previous posts in this thread), then I have no qualms with you.

What you said derives from the universe being deterministic. Again, I agree.

Trallala, life is again light and pleasant and pleasurable. No worries.


Now all you have to do to further relieve my intellectual tension, is to show how you see the above affects this quote:

"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."

I believe Schartz has been invoked to aid the side of Regularists; but Schwartz actually makes a blindingly convincing statement for the Necessitists.


---------------------

Also, I can't see how you concluded the third paragraph from the second... the second paragraph clearly says that all events occur due to how the so-called laws affect them. In the second paragraphs it is asserted that the laws affect not only regularly occurring events, but also irregularly or only once occurring events. The LAWS affect EVERYTHING, according to what you typed; how can you then write the third paragraph in which you make an eloquently emotional (but according to the above, ineffectual) plea against determinism?
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 2nd, 2018, 11:28 pm 

Maybe you should examine the second paragraph, and change it if necessary to comply with Schwartz's thinking, or else, if it is written correctly congruently to Schwartz's teaching, then you may want to reconsider the third paragraph.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 2nd, 2018, 11:44 pm 

To wit, I parsed the sentence in the second paragraph this below way. If you meant it differently, then please rewrite the sentence as I believe I did not make a mistake in the parsing.

What Schwartz is denying( is that there is some nomicity — physical necessity, or governing law — (that (covers the invariant regular events, ) but (fails to cover the events that do not occur regularly, or may only occur once.)))

… where "but" means "and".

In other words, there is nominicity; and nominicity states that laws govern only invariant and regular events, but they don't govern events that occur once or occur irregularly.


So the denial of nominicity is a negation of nominicity; and the negation states positively that laws govern not only regular events, but also irregular events. Or else the negation of nominicity means that laws don't govern regular invariant events. (I discarded this possibility.)

(I did a lot of work for you, DavidM. If this parsing and analysis of the parsing resulted in meaning that you did not mean to say, then please take this as an example that precision in language and expression is of utmost concern in philosophy.)
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Braininvat on November 3rd, 2018, 9:58 am 

Uno - your parenthetic last paragraph could be seen as condescending.

And maybe you still misunderstand Swartz. He is saying there are true propositions (or highly probable ones, pace Hume) about events, but not prescriptive or governing laws.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 3rd, 2018, 10:21 am 

-1-,

First, the man's name is Swartz, not Schwartz.

You continue to misread him. I'll try to parse your latest posts, well, later.

Here is how he describes deterministic "laws":

Just as deterministic (i.e. exceptionless) laws are descriptions of the world, not prescriptions or disguised prescriptions, so too are statistical laws.


Clearly, he is not saying that these "laws" affect anything. What we call a "deterministic law" is simply a description of an event or state of affairs that has no exception, like the charge on an electron. This is directly the opposite of the necessitarian account, that there is a law that makes it be the case that the charge on the electron is such and such. How you claim Swartz is defending necessitarianism wholly eludes me. He couldn't be clearer in his repudiation of it, whether he is right or wrong.

Also, I have corresponded with Swartz. He characterized my explication of his ideas at another forum as "superb."
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 3rd, 2018, 11:24 am 

It is a description of nature that an electron bears such and such a charge.

It is a description of nature that light travels at c in a vacuum.

It is a description of nature that gravity behaves in such and such a way.

It is a description of nature that in a closed system, order tends to give way to disorder.

It is a description of nature that I raise my arm at a certain time, if I do. If not, a different description of nature would hold true.

It is a description of nature that quantum events have probabilistic outcomes.

Some descriptions are of invariant states of affairs (charge on an electron, light speed), some are of statistical phenomena (thermodynamics), some are of manifestations of geometry (gravity), some are of freely willed human acts (raising an arm), and some are of probablistic events (quantum). All, though, are descriptions, and bottom out there.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 3rd, 2018, 12:05 pm 

I think the metaphysical core of a regularity theory of “laws” has an important consequence, which Swartz stresses repeatedly.

Many scientists and philosophers tell us we have no free will. To take one example, the biologist Jerry Coyne harps on his hard determinism repeatedly, and even lectures credulous audiences on it. (My advice to 
Coyne: stick to biology.)

What if Coyne and the others are wrong?

The alleged incompatibility of determinism and free will is often stated about like this: The laws of nature, in conjunction with antecedent events, entail all future events (no free will.)

But of course, the construction implicitly embraces a necessitarian account of “laws,” holding them to “govern” the world. But drop this necessitarian account in favor of regularity theory, and, as Swartz notes, the alleged problem of determinism and free will cannot even be coherently stated.

For if we adopt regularity theory, the statement would now be:

The descriptions of nature, in conjunction with antecedent events, entail all future events (no free will.)

Huh?

How can descriptions of nature, in conjunction with antecedent events or anything else, entail all future events, or entail anything at all?

Obviously, they can’t.

Even descriptions of invariant regularities, discussed above, cannot entail that all future invariant regularities will remain invariant — see Hume’s problem of induction.

At best we could say that the descriptions of invariant regularities, in conjunction with their past invariance, entail that they will continue to be invariant, if they continue to be invariant — wholly circular!

Under regularity theory, the “problem” of determinism and free will is dissolved. We have free will.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 3rd, 2018, 12:57 pm 

First of all, I sincerely apologize to you, DavidM, for being condescending. It was uncalled for, I beg your thousand pardons.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

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

"Just as deterministic (i.e. exceptionless) laws are descriptions of the world, not prescriptions or disguised prescriptions, so too are statistical laws."

This is an issue of opinions.

Opinion one: (a la Swartz, DavidM, etc.)
1. Things happen in invariant regularities; this is a described phenomenon of the observed universe.
Opinion two: (a la -1- and (perhaps) many others):
2. Things happen in invariant regularities; this is a result of the nature of the universe, in which things cause other things.

I can see that neither is superior to the other. (1.) is more exacting; it does not extrapolate from the observed. (2) is more useful; it can be used to predict things (or else to conclude what must have happened in the past.)

(1) makes no claim about causality; (2) does. (2) may be in error; (1) is for sure not in error. (1) is philosophically more sound; it has better evidence than (2); (2) is less sound philosophically, but immensely more useful in practice.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 3rd, 2018, 1:10 pm 

"Even descriptions of invariant regularities, discussed above, cannot entail that all future invariant regularities will remain invariant — see Hume’s problem of induction."

Hume's problem of induction lies in the fact that man's mind is not capable to compute everything that needs to be computed. It is extremely important to know the difference between what can be known by man, and what can be known in an absolute sense.

Also, to say that the invariants will change can be only decided by empirical methods, and the future is not here yet. True, it is not proven or even certain that present invariants won't vary; but it is equally as futile to argue that they will change, or that they perhaps will change. Makes nice philosophy, true, but it's conjecture, nothing that anyone can prove.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

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

Swartz's teaching is philosophy; but it leaves no ground for the human mind to develop technology, science, or medicine. Swartz's teaching is highly unassailable; but it fails to provide a survival technique of any sort.

I admit that Swartz's teaching is valid, but it fails to prove that determinism is invalid. It merely shows a different way of looking at the universe, and that different way excludes causation, and includes only chance events that happen with invariant regularity. This is not at all a denial (although it is an opposite) of determinism; it merely points at a different way of looking at the observed world.

Determinism has the powerful advantage over Swartzism with its usefulness in practical life. Swartzism offers no practical advantage; it is merely a toy theory (in my opinion), it is not false, but it leads to nowhere beyond itself.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 3rd, 2018, 1:30 pm 

I consider Swartzism to be on the same level of usefulness in the philosophy of science, as solipsism or as the theory that states there is no past, our entire body of memory is instantly created now, or as the theory that states that we are products of a computer game and we are mere AI objects each.

These, as well as Swartzism, all are not necessarily true, but nevertheless unassailable theories; they can't be proven true or false; they are useless in practice, and that is the reason I like to give them the collective name "toy theories". In my opinion the moniker "toy theories" is not disparaging or diminutizing, but a true descriptor. You can amuse yourself with it for hours, but in the end there is nothing else you can do with it.

Whereas determinism can be proven wrong, while it can't be proven to be necessarily true. This gives determinism a philosophical vulnerability, but at the same time it gives it immense practical strength.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Braininvat on November 3rd, 2018, 4:56 pm 

Swartz may offer more than an intellectual toy, but I will leave that for DaveM or others to argue. I can see where the degree of variability in many kinds of data sets would actually fit rather well with Swartz.

I find this Swartzian latitude resonating with Chuck SandyP (see section 5, on anti-determinism etc). Will address this more if I have time...

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/peirce/#anti
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 3rd, 2018, 6:09 pm 

I do not think that Swartz, anywhere, questions the predictive utility of science.

What he questions is that there are prescriptive laws underlying predictive utility. For Swartz, the “laws of nature” are better characterized as exceptionless regularities that are amenable to description, both by semantic propositions and by maths.

If there are regularities that occur without exception, then of course we can, and do, make predictions and retrodictions from them.

Swartz’s take on this does the following philosophical work:

1. It dissolves the alleged incompatibility between determinism and free will.

2. It eliminates this nonempirical (mystical?) nomicity, where it is alleged that there is some law that makes it be that the electron, for example, bears such and such a charge. Whose law is this? God’s? A supernatural legislature? A committee of bungling demiurges, as Borges had it? How is the law enforced? Has anyone ever seen a supernatural traffic cop tracking the speed of light with, say, radar, to make sure it never goes faster or slower than c? The upshot is that Swartz’s move, as he aims, throughly naturalizes philosophy and science by removing it from “God’s laws” mysticism.

To me, dispensing with nomicity in “laws” of nature is very akin to dispensing with the wavefunction collapse in QM. There just is no such collapse.

3. It lets us find other reasons, if there are reasons, for why things are, as they are. As I have noted some above, the second description, not law, of thermodynamics, is accounted for statistically. The description of gravity is accounted for geometrically. The charge on the electron may just be a brute fact, the concept of which someone else raised earlier in this thread. After all, given that there are electrons, they must have some charge.

This goes to the issue of explanatory regress. Is it infinite? Or does it stop somewhere? To ask why or how something happens, may only be valid within the universe, and may not be valid for the universe as a whole. It may be that if you could explain why everything happens within the universe, you’ve explained all that there is to be explained.

Why did I go to the dentist?

Because my tooth ached.

Why does the charge on the electron take the value that it does?

Because that’s how it is.

Thanks for the Peirce link, BiV.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby -1- on November 3rd, 2018, 11:12 pm 

davidm » November 3rd, 2018, 6:09 pm wrote:2. It [Swartz's philosophical work] eliminates this nonempirical (mystical?) nomicity, where it is alleged that there is some law that makes it be that the electron, for example, bears such and such a charge. Whose law is this? God’s? A supernatural legislature? A committee of bungling demiurges, as Borges had it? How is the law enforced? Has anyone ever seen a supernatural traffic cop tracking the speed of light with, say, radar, to make sure it never goes faster or slower than c?

MiketheTyke » October 30th, 2018, 8:26 am wrote: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



I can't tell the difference. Can you tell the difference?

The same argument that we brought up in the beginning of the thread to deny the validity of the question the OP, MiketheTyke, asked, can be replaced by Swartzism, you say, DavidM. Nobody asks the questions you asked in point two, except MiketheTyke. I certainly don't have any inclination to ask, why electrons are precisely the way they are, or why the universe exists, or why the speed of light is C. Causation does not need to ask the question "why" but it seeks answers to "what is the causative mechanism in play here?"

I am also not comfortable with the invariant regularity being a predictive mechanism if there is no causation involved. Without a cause, nothing happens; does it. Swartz would have a hard time to convince me that there are things happening, changes are happening, where there is no cause-effect relationship to make change happen.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 4th, 2018, 12:28 pm 

Well, what others call “deterministic laws,” Swartz calls “exceptionless regularities,” which obviously exist. And from them we can and do make predictions, and perform science.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 4th, 2018, 5:05 pm 

davidm » November 3rd, 2018, 7:24 pm wrote:It is a description of nature that an electron bears such and such a charge.

It is a description of nature that light travels at c in a vacuum.

It is a description of nature that gravity behaves in such and such a way.

It is a description of nature that in a closed system, order tends to give way to disorder.

It is a description of nature that I raise my arm at a certain time, if I do. If not, a different description of nature would hold true.

It is a description of nature that quantum events have probabilistic outcomes.

Some descriptions are of invariant states of affairs (charge on an electron, light speed), some are of statistical phenomena (thermodynamics), some are of manifestations of geometry (gravity), some are of freely willed human acts (raising an arm), and some are of probablistic events (quantum). All, though, are descriptions, and bottom out there.

I'd like a little bit less metaphor here to clarify your position. By "bottom out there" are you adopting the position that there are no Physical Laws of Nature?
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 4th, 2018, 5:19 pm 

hyksos » November 4th, 2018, 3:05 pm wrote:I'd like a little bit less metaphor here to clarify your position. By "bottom out there" are you adopting the position that there are no Physical Laws of Nature?


I'd hoped that Swartz had made this clear. If by "physical laws of nature" you mean edicts that compel the universe to behave in such and such a way, then, no, there are no such laws.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 4th, 2018, 6:37 pm 

davidm,

I do not mean "edicts that compel" at all.

Still wondering though. There is the mystery regarding the origin of the Laws of Physics. . Is this sentence a good representation of your position? "There is no mystery because there are no such laws, only observed regularities picked out by scientists."
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby Forest_Dump on November 4th, 2018, 7:04 pm 

That's how I would put it. Regularities with no known exceptions and usually no known cause.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 4th, 2018, 11:27 pm 

Forest_Dump,

Without all this semantic parsing, I would point out a particular concept that isn't being agreed upon (for some strange reason.) We saw the people lined up around the 7 11s to buy tickets for the recent lottery that had a record high jackpot.

Analogously , James Randi has offered $1 million to anyone with paranormal powers to come forward and collect that money. Nobody has collected Randi's payout. In your opinion, what do you think gave James Randi such confidence that no one would come forward? And even when they did, he seemed to know ahead of time that they would not exhibit such powers. Where did he gain that confidence from?
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 5th, 2018, 9:31 am 

hyksos » November 4th, 2018, 4:37 pm wrote:davidm,

I do not mean "edicts that compel" at all.

Still wondering though. There is the mystery regarding the origin of the Laws of Physics. . Is this sentence a good representation of your position? "There is no mystery because there are no such laws, only observed regularities picked out by scientists."


I think that’s a fair summary of my (and Swartz’s) position.

Morever, as noted earlier, some of these observed regularities do have explanations that employ no laws, no nomicity. Gravity is described by the inverse square because there are three spatial dimensions. If there were four spatial dimensions, it would be described by the inverse cube (and, interestingly, as Tegmark noted, on the inverse cube no stable planetary orbits would be possible, hence no solar systems and no life as we know it.)

QM is probablistic, now lawlike. The second law of thermodynamics is statistical. No law makes it be the case that entropy rises in a closed system. It just does because there are so many ways for such systems to be disordered rather than ordered.

Other observed regularities, like the charge on an electron, seem to be contingent, brute facts. And so on.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 5th, 2018, 9:41 am 

hyksos » November 4th, 2018, 9:27 pm wrote: Where did he gain that confidence from?


He gained it from empiricism — the fact that paranormal powers are not obsered to occur, and have failed scientific tests.

However, it doesn’t follow that there is a law excluding paranormal powers — they just don’t seem to happen in our world. Still, it seems possible that there could be a mechanism for such abilities, but that we don’t know what it is. If there is one, no earth species seems to have evolved to fit that niche. Maybe extraterrestrials have it.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 5th, 2018, 12:48 pm 

He gained it from empiricism — the fact that paranormal powers are not obsered to occur, and have failed scientific tests.

"He gained it from empiricism"? Dodgy and overly-legalized answer.

The superficial answer is that Randi knew no one would collect the money because humans cannot violate the laws of physics. A knowledge which, (ironically) is itself an instantiation of a Law.

(for reference the instantiation was "You cannot violate the laws of the universe while in the universe". Randi could also instantiate it with for, example, a machine instead of a person)


Morever, as noted earlier, some of these observed regularities do have explanations that employ no laws, no nomicity. Gravity is described by the inverse square because there are three spatial dimensions. If there were four spatial dimensions, it would be described by the inverse cube (and, interestingly, as Tegmark noted, on the inverse cube no stable planetary orbits would be possible, hence no solar systems and no life as we know it.)

QM is probablistic, now lawlike. The second law of thermodynamics is statistical. No law makes it be the case that entropy rises in a closed system. It just does because there are so many ways for such systems to be disordered rather than ordered.

I am going to strongly adopt the position that Physical Laws are a different phenomena than "observed regularities". I will exhibit this difference with an example.

Consider electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength is within the range 380 to 710 nanometers. Every scientists who is alive, and every scientist who ever lived in the past, would observe something both special and regular about this spectrum of light. Light of those wavelengths would , by all accounts, constitute an observed regularity for all observers, scientist or non.

The problem is that there is no physical significance to light with a wavelength in 380..710 nm. ( You may pretend like you don't) but you know exactly what I mean when I say physical significance. While an observed regularity (by all accounts) there is merely a biological significance to that kind of light. It accidentally happens to be the kind of light that the human eye can see. So while it is an observed regularity, it is not a Law of Physics.

An analogous argument can be made for frequencies of sound, of which there is another observed regularity with zero physical significance (those frequencies the human ear responds to). Observed regularities are not physical laws, and conflating them is a fallacy.


Other {sic}, like the charge on an electron, seem to be contingent, brute facts. And so on.

The fact that charge exists at all may be a brute fact. But the exact value which the elementary charge, q , takes on can be queried. Remaining scientific in our thinking, we can ask why the charge of the electron takes on that particular value, and even question the origin of that Law.

The origin of the Laws of physics remains an open and outstanding question for us. You can try to smuggle it behind a smokescreen of "observed regularities" but number 1, I already showed that is fallacious, and number 2, such smuggling is merely excusing one's self of responsibility in addressing the mystery.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 5th, 2018, 1:31 pm 

"He gained it from empiricism"? Dodgy and overly-legalized answer.


The fact that the para-normal does not actually manifest itself ever is as empirical as it gets. I suppose one might call it “negative empiricism” — the failure to observe something. In exactly the same way, the failure to observe a planet orbiting the sun inside the orbit of Mercury — though at one time such a planet was believed to exist, and was even given the name Vulcan — makes us think, with great confidence, that such a planet fails to exist.

The superficial answer is that Randi knew no one would collect the money because humans cannot violate the laws of physics.


Right. Well, as Swartz said:

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.


Bold mine.

Of course, I think it would have been better, and in accord with his own thesis, to have written, “you don’t get to choose the descriptions of the charge on the electron,” etc. Of course he does say something very like that, with the formulation: “the laws that describe…” Because that’s what laws of nature are: descriptions and not edicts.

( You may pretend like you don't) …


I’ve no idea why every thread on message boards sooner or later devolves to imputations of dishonesty and suchlike personal attacks. No, I honestly, without pretending, see no difference between the wavelengths of light and the other stuff you mention. Wavelengths are an observed property of light. So is the fact that light always travels at c in a vacuum. So either both properties have physical significance, or neither does. I take it you mean by “physical significance” that the property is somehow dictated by a law. I hold that neither c nor wavelengths are dictated by law. They are just observed regularities.

I already showed that is fallacious …


No, you really didn’t.

We observe the charge on an electron. We ask why it has that particular charge. You, apparently, think that there is a law behind it, which dictates the charge. I don’t. Either it is a brute fact, or there is some other natural (non-lawlike) explanatory reason, just as the geometry of space explains the inverse square, and as the space of all possible stochastic outcomes explains the second “law” of thermodynamics. Evolutionary change can be described mathematically by population genetics. But these maths are, as always with maths as well as with Tarski’s propositional truths, merely descriptions of what happens in the world. The maths take their truth from the world, not vice versa. If evolution operated differently — Lararckian, for example — then the maths would be different, as would propositional statements about evolution.

If you want to posit a “law” that makes it be the case that electrons bear a particular charge, or any charge at all, then show what this law is, where it comes from, and how is enforced. Is there an electron-charge police force that makes sure all electrons have the same charge, on pain of arrest and imprisonment if they don’t?

And if there is such a law, is there a law that explains the law? Is it laws, like turtles, all the way down?
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 5th, 2018, 2:59 pm 

No, you really didn’t.

We observe the charge on an electron. We ask why it has that particular charge. You, apparently, think that there is a law behind it, which dictates the charge. I don’t. Either it is a brute fact, or there is some other natural (non-lawlike) explanatory reason

There are observed regularities in the number of legs in all species of beetles. There are observed regularities in the width of tree trunks. All observed regularities, but none of them are Laws of Physics. Laws of Physics are something far more specific than a "mere observed regularity". I am flabbergasted as to why this simple and clear concept is not being communicated.

If you want to posit a “law” that makes it be the case that electrons bear a particular charge, or any charge at all, then show what this law is, where it comes from, and how is enforced. Is there an electron-charge police force that makes sure all electrons have the same charge, on pain of arrest and imprisonment if they don’t?

I don't know what elicited this paragraph and I don't see how it relates to anything I have posted.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 5th, 2018, 3:54 pm 

hyksos » November 5th, 2018, 12:59 pm wrote:
There are observed regularities in the number of legs in all species of beetles. There are observed regularities in the width of tree trunks. All observed regularities, but none of them are Laws of Physics. Laws of Physics are something far more specific than a "mere observed regularity". I am flabbergasted as to why this simple and clear concept is not being communicated.


And I an flabbergasted that you have not actually read the Swartz piece to which I linked -- where he addresses this very point, in the section entitled "The Case for Necessitarianism," followed by the subcategories "Accidental Truths vs. Laws of Nature," "False Existentials," and "Doom vs. Failure." Of course after reading what he writes you may still disagree, but perhaps you would not be actively flabbergasted by someone holding an opinion contrary to yours.

There are observed regularities in the number of legs in all species of beetles. There are observed regularities in the width of tree trunks. There are observed regularities in the charge on electrons. So? What's the difference?

You say that the final example is a law of physics. And I asked you, what is this law? Show it to us! Where does it come from? How is it enforced? Are there laws that govern the laws, all the way down? I asked this above, but you did not answer.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby davidm on November 5th, 2018, 4:01 pm 

I should add, then read "The case for regularity," which comes right after the section cited above. Or, indeed, just read the whole article, and then comment on it.
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Re: Laws of science and nature Question

Postby hyksos on November 6th, 2018, 7:32 pm 

And I an flabbergasted that you have not actually read the Swartz piece to which I linked -- where he addresses this very point, in the section entitled "The Case for Necessitarianism," followed by the subcategories "Accidental Truths vs. Laws of Nature," "False Existentials," and "Doom vs. Failure." Of course after reading what he writes you may still disagree,

I'm not here to adjudicate Swartz's continental idealism with you as a proxy. Make a Swartz thread, and I will decide if I have time to wade through his writings.


You say that the final example is a law of physics. And I asked you, what is this law? Show it to us! Where does it come from? How is it enforced? Are there laws that govern the laws, all the way down? I asked this above, but you did not answer.

It sounds like you agree that the origin of the Laws of Physics is an outstanding mystery.

Do the laws of physics bottom out into a handful of equations that act as 'brute facts'? We don't know for sure. Maybe.

Maybe not. Perhaps it is onions inside of onions forever.

Do the laws of physics reduce to a single equation? It is possible. We don't know.

If I travel far outside the observable universe, will I travel into another "bubble" and will the laws of physics be slightly different there? We don't know the answer. This is certainly possible.

Do the laws of physics change over time? Nobody knows. Some people claim that they do. (Smolin, et al)

There could be other universes with different laws than ours.

So the origin of the Laws of physics is a mystery, fraught with multiple avenues of investigation and mental re-organization. Do we even have the right words and concepts to attack the question? Maybe we don't. In any case, we are in agreement on this.
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