Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

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

Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on April 7th, 2020, 8:14 am 

I have argued on other threads that if maths (excluding probabilities) embodies the philosophy of Determinism, (ie. produces single inevitable outcomes), then the use of probabilities must demonstrate a breach of Determinist principles.

I didn't get much push-back on this - so let me ask the direct question - Do you agree or not?

If so, would you also agree that any use of probabilities in mathematical models renders that model to be a description rather than an explanation?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 3rd, 2020, 8:50 pm 

In the absence of any challenges to this proposition after several months, I must assume that the statements are correct.

In that case, contrary to many suggestions on this forum, it must also be correct that most, if not all, descriptions, propositions, and theories about quantum mechanics do not show/follow determinist principles - because most if not all include the significant use of probabilities.

Therefore it cannot be claimed that the combined theories of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are deterministic.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby hyksos on June 4th, 2020, 11:19 pm 

There are two different contexts for this issue of determinism. One context is from a philosophical debate about Free Will. So philosophers will spill chapters of ink on Compatibilism vs Incompatibilism https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/ Thrown around in these debates is some concepts of moral responsibility and also something else about this phrase : "causal determinism".

The other context is physics grad students looking at equations within their discipline. In that context, the word "Deterministic" has a different meaning. It refers to whether the equations of a theory are deterministic.

I think on forums like this one, (on IRC, on discord, on reddit, and et cetera) these two different kinds of determinism are presumed to be interchangeable, and are liberally mixed and substituted in dangerous ways.


In that case, contrary to many suggestions on this forum, it must also be correct that most, if not all, descriptions, propositions, and theories about quantum mechanics do not show/follow determinist principles - because most if not all include the significant use of probabilities.

Okay so lets break this down into split hairs. The legal statement (for a lawyer writing an insurance policy) is that the results of experiments are indeterminate.

On the other hand, if you are actually referring to the technical theory of quantum mechanics : that theory is actually a good candidate for being fully deterministic. (since we are being legal lawyers, let me qualify that claim. QUantum mechanics is the best candidate for being a deterministic theory of physics)


Remember that the equations of QM do not contain anything like "the act of measurement by an observer". All that science really knows for sure is that something inexplicable happens when a system is measured --- it collapses out of a superposition and selects one of the many eigenstates the system could be in. The appearance of a particular eigenstate (or stationary state ) of the system will occur in measurement by a probability. These probabilities is the magnitude of the wave function squared.

Everyone within and outside of academia will always promote their own Interpretation of QM as if it were airtight gospel truth. The cold reality is that every last one of them is speculation.


The universe we inhabit contains observers who take measurements. They measure systems and in doing so the system gives them some particular answer -- a kind of piece of knowledge. At the end of the day, the problems about quantum mechanics are not about Compatibilism and Free Will. They are instead about the question that goes "Prior to taking the measurement, was the system in a deterministic state?" In shorter shrift: Did all the parts of the system sitting there waiting in objective positions at all times? Even shorter : is the universe a giant mechanical machine?



Therefore it cannot be claimed that the combined theories of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are deterministic.

Almost nearly everyone in academia agrees with this statement. Were you addressing a particular claim made by a particular poster at this forum?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 12th, 2020, 8:52 pm 

Hi Hyksos

Yes - as stated, I am responding to comments on this forum. As an example, on 16th March you said...

When davidm earlier claimed that "Quantum mechanics is deterministic", that claim was true, I will admit. However, it is only true of the mathematical formalism of QM in textbooks.


There's the rub. The QM physical environment is claimed to be deterministic when the evidence isn't there to make the claim - other than through mathematical equations which do not explain observed facts. (The use of probabilities does not explain anything - it can only describe).

We also generally do not see your caveat re: maths (above) attached to scientific statements. Neither do they generally recognise what probabilities mean in the broader context.


I don't see this, as a debate about Free Will. It is a debate about what a lack of determinism means. In strict terms, as I understand it, that means a lack of any cause, whether known or not.

Mathematical explanations may try to bring events that appear to break the principle of causality 'into the fold', by introducing 'hidden variables' or probabilities. But if these mathematical fudges really do disguise a genuine circumstance of non-inevitability, then we have to ask what that means at basic level.

If there is no cause, what are you left with?

For me at least, Free Will is a way to illustrate the frequency of non-deterministic events in our thoughts. I have also said that I am not 100% tied to what can be proven when it comes to explanations of seemingly non-deterministic events - so I am open to deterministic possibilities if offered. But on a growing number of things, they still fall short of an explanation.

However, I feel we are both aware of examples where there cannot be a deterministic explanation without breaking some core principles within science, such as strict causality, (even if we care to speculate about possible solutions that cannot be proven). Ideas such as 'wave-particle duality' are an example of that.

What I see lacking in the scientific community is a lack of proper consideration about what non-deterministic activity means, if it is not a hidden variable.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby hyksos on June 21st, 2020, 3:56 pm 

There is a false dichotomy in what you are describing. It's like you are arguing with someone who is not here. You are trying to adjudicate an argument between two debaters who are not present.

For me at least, Free Will is a way to illustrate the frequency of non-deterministic events in our thoughts.

I would merely repeat what I have said already five times here in several threads. The problems of Quantum Mechanics are deep questions about the nature of reality itself. So these problems happen in provincial contexts like a photon passing through a glass window. You don't need a person in the loop for these wave function "collapsings" to occur.

Anybody who claims that the universe is composed of eternal rigid particles bouncing around in a featureless void , and then utilizes that "fact" as a defense against the existence of Free Will. I would have to cut that reasoning off at its head. The universe is not like that. The premise is wrong.

A wrong premise does not entail the conclusion is also wrong, but it disallows the argument from proceeding at all to begin with -- that is to say, there is no reason to waste one's time engaging with it.

For me at least, Free Will is a way to illustrate the frequency of non-deterministic events in our thoughts.

You have roughshoddedly skipped over several levels of scientific inquiry, including psychology, neuroscience, and the biology of cells. Unfortunately, human beings are not animated Pinocchio doll.

If we were animated Pinocchios, you might be reasonably justified by a line-of-inquiry involving how the "mere wood" that comprises Pinocchio's head could have memory and cognition. Such a theory may naturally lead to having to turn to Quantum Mechanics for an exhaustive description.

Actual human heads are composed of segregated tissues which are themselves composed of neuron cells. The neurons have tree-like branching structures into various layers, and very complicated gap junctions between synapse and dendrite. If such a complete description of these systems was at-hand, one might invoke quantum mechanics to explain some properties about the smallest parts of vesicles. Beyond such research, it does not seem prudent (or even rational) to build an immediate bridge spanning between Quantum Mechanics and the thoughts in human minds.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 22nd, 2020, 9:56 pm 

Hi hyksos

As you should be aware from the OP - I am not really interested in Free Will for the purposes of this debate. I only mentioned Free Will because you had done so in your previous post as having a very specific place in the contextual arguments - which I didn't necessarily agree with..... and not for any other reason.

I have also read and understand your previous statements and am very aware that QM is trying to understand the nature of reality itself. So am I, and I have tried to explain the context of my mathematical point on that basis.

You have said yourself (above) that the results of QM experiments are indeterminate - by which you mean they produce different results in the same conditions, for reasons that we don't know.

Yes, we can use probabilities to determine a more likely outcome in any given situation and it is the only valid tool that we have available in the circumstances..... but it is not an explanation, just a description which requires us to gamble on the probabilities if trying to predict an outcome.

I don't know why you deviated onto the subject of neurons, the question in this thread is still whether it is valid to claim that the physical universe is deterministic, when the use of probabilities is evidence that it may not be. If you then add things like entanglement and wave particle duality, there seems to be even more evidence that it isn't.

On other threads, I thought you said much the same thing.

What I was hoping for was a discussion about the factors which might refine the point. Eg. where there is just a limited set of possible outcomes - might that point to an underlying deterministic condition, as opposed to those circumstances with a vast range of outcomes where virtually anything might be possible, and therefore more likely to be truly non-deterministic.

Also, if there is a real belief in non-determinism, what do we think that means, precisely?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby charon on June 23rd, 2020, 9:33 am 

Hi, Suz -

It's me again, sans turtles. You'll have to put up with it :-)

QM is trying to understand the nature of reality itself. So am I, and I have tried to explain the context of my mathematical point on that basis.


I'm not against maths or QM. QM is relatively (no pun intended) new so it's the big thing at the moment. Before that we only had the classical stuff so now we know a bit more and we're consumed by it.

Later, inevitably, we'll discover something else and that'll override QM... etc, etc. Which will be interesting, of course. And then something else, and then something else. And then everything'll become a big sci-fi movie :-)

You want the nature of reality. So look at it. What is 'reality'? That word means being, or having, the quality of being real. 'Real' means that which actually exists.

I know half the world thinks reality is an illusion but that's not true. In fact, it's downright silly. When people are starving not one of them thinks it's an illusion. Only comfortable academics in armchairs with food in their bellies announce that sort of thing. Or people with odd beliefs.

So the ghastly truth is that reality is what really is actually there, and we know what's there - nature, man, space, etc. We ourselves are in it and of it and a right mess we've made of it too. But we didn't make ourselves.

You can investigate the structure of reality, which is what they're doing. Getting down to the smallest possible particle, and all that.

But I'm wondering, when you say 'the nature of reality' whether that's all you mean. Just particles and mathematical calculations? Is that reality? Or is that part of reality?

You see the point? Is that reality or one of our endeavours that seeks to understand the world we find ourselves in? And, being one of our endeavours, isn't it very limited?

Probably no one will agree to this but never mind. But the truth is that anything we do as an endeavour is partial and therefore limited.

I'm not knocking science or trying to dismiss it. Without science we'd be back in the caves or something so that's not the point. The point is to understand limitation when it comes to dissecting reality.

So is there a way of understanding reality that isn't partial - for the simple reason that a partial investigation will produce a partial result?

That's what we have at the moment, a partial understanding of what constitutes reality, the thing which is there. And we think we have to go on finding partial or incomplete understandings till one day we strike gold and get the whole thing!

How long will that take? You and I will be long gone and those after us will still be searching. So the search for incomplete answers may not be the way at all. Not that one is dismissing the advances of scientific knowledge; it has its place.

So is there anything we can do that isn't partial? Our minds are limited as they are now because we depend on our thinking which is itself dependent on our knowledge. That's so, isn't it?

Can we ever, no matter how hard we try, think of something we don't know? If we've never heard of it how can we think of it? So it's not possible. But yet, with what we know, we want to investigate something immense, beyond calculation.

So how do we find something which has nothing to do with knowledge? Because it amounts to that. When we say 'I want to find x' we've already thought of it. So how do we investigate the unknown?

It's quite simple, we can't. But there is a state of mind that is in a state of not-knowing. If I asked you your address you'd know what it is immediately. But if I asked you what mine is you'd go completely blank. Try it sometime. There's no response from memory if the answer's not in there.

So the mind need not be held by knowledge of any kind. And can we perceive from that state?

Does this interest you? If we look at something known there's a recognition. That's what we call experience, recognising something known. So all experience of that kind is old because it's recognised from memory.

But if the mind is in a state of not-knowing, non-experiencing, what happens? Then you'll see the nature of reality.

Whether that can ever be conveyed to others is doubtful, it probably can't be. From the scientist's point of view that's probably quite useless because they want to quantify everything, put it in a book, and so on. But that may not be possible,

But what is possible is that we can discover it for ourselves, and that is the end of all illusion, wondering, groping, and all that.

So I suppose it depends what we want really, doesn't it?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby hyksos on June 24th, 2020, 8:59 am 

Yes, we can use probabilities to determine a more likely outcome in any given situation and it is the only valid tool that we have available in the circumstances..... but it is not an explanation, just a description which requires us to gamble on the probabilities if trying to predict an outcome.

I see that you are again emphasizing the contrast between Explanation and Description again here.

After a second review ( a week later) I now do see that you included the distinction in the opening post of this thread. My reply to that and my reply to your misgivings follows :

In an television interview with Richard Feynman he became very irate when someone asked him why do magnets produce a force of repulsion. This is an issue as to whether science, being a Descriptive activity, cannot produce answers to a Why-question. Why-questions are intrinsically tied up into purpose and goals and common sense.

Image

In the words of Joseph Campbell, he told a story of a Buddhist master monk, who asked his students to meditate on a question : "What is the meaning of a flower?"

Image

We don't want a scientific description of the flower. A description of the function of its cells. A description of how the internal world of those cells proceed by genes, proteins, and molecules. Instead, we ask what the purpose of a flower's existence is, too begin with. The answers might serve as an explanation of the flower, separate from its description.


Quantum Mechanics provides a description of matter and energy in terms of probabilities. The theory is not telling us why any of this is happening. As you have discovered, it is not providing an explanation for why any of these particles are behaving this way.

In addition to Feynman and Campbell above, I will also include a quotation from the Crackpot Index. This is not meant to be insulting , or even funny. But this is included for completeness.

Image
It is completely true that Quantum Mechanics is experimentally successful, and simultaneously it provides no mechanism for why physical events occur. Vis-a-vis Feynman, it certainly will not explain "why" they occur. There is no shame in having a thought which was thought before many times by people that arrived before you.

One might ask why this thought is made a mockery of in the Crackpot Index? The reason is when a person holds up the misgivings about a scientific theory not providing an explanation as proof that therefore the theory is wrong. When you cross that mental bridge, you are wandering dangerously into the crackpot territory.

In flippant hallway/elevator conversation a working physicist might respond to the crackpot : "Humans didn't design the universe, so don't ask us why it is the way it is."

Where now?
My reply here is not intended to dissuade people from participation, or disparage. Once we have come to the realization that science provides us with theories that describe the world and its parts, but never explain them, where then is there is any place to proceed from there ? It feels like , intellectually, we are stranded on an island and can't get off.

There is a place for us to go next. A way "off the island", if you will. It is the Philosophy of Science.

A whole section link __ viewforum.php?f=10 __
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 26th, 2020, 8:53 am 

Hi charon

While I enjoy your posts, I also find them very confusing because you often seem to argue that there is no point in speculating about reality because we will only ever know part of the story - no matter what we find; while at the same time saying (above and elsewhere) that scientific research is valid because it has transformed our lives from being cavemen/women into people who can enjoy life etc..
Yet the whole point of science is that it is asking the very questions you tend to dismiss.

You can't have it both ways.

I must also say that these points which you keep making are off-topic and a distraction - hopefully not deliberate. If you want to debate them, please start a different thread. However, for a last time, I will answer the points you made above.

You want the nature of reality. So look at it. What is 'reality'? That word means being, or having, the quality of being real. 'Real' means that which actually exists.

I know half the world thinks reality is an illusion but that's not true. In fact, it's downright silly. When people are starving not one of them thinks it's an illusion. Only comfortable academics in armchairs with food in their bellies announce that sort of thing. Or people with odd beliefs.


If you accept the science as far as it has proven itself, then it must be true that what we perceive about the world around us doesn't immediately square with the reality as identified by science - so while scientific theory tries to truly explain what we perceive, it must also be true that our headline perception is an illusion when compared to the scientific explanation.

Equally, if you look at things from the alternate perception, and say that everything we perceive is a construct of our minds generated by signals received from elsewhere, (I think therefore I am... etc), then it must again be correct that our mental construct is an illusion rather than the direct reality.

On that basis I think you are kidding yourself when you dismiss other people's ideas about 'the illusion within reality' without any proper consideration.... especially when these points have been made to you in the past, and you haven't provided any argument against these points.

I'm not knocking science or trying to dismiss it. Without science we'd be back in the caves or something so that's not the point. The point is to understand limitation when it comes to dissecting reality.


I don't disagree - but that's not what you have argued in the past - or indeed here. You very clearly ask 'what's the point in trying?'

So is there a way of understanding reality that isn't partial - for the simple reason that a partial investigation will produce a partial result?


Again - you have accepted the merits of scientific findings so far - so why do you dismiss future efforts as not being worthwhile. I have said it before and I say it again - I feel that giving up is defeatist and will not help future generations. If you are content to live in your bubble, then I have no problem with that. Equally it is nice to interact with you on a sensible basis.

However you cannot assume that when you handle your life within your sense of reality, in your way, that yours is the only valid perception of reality, because it clearly isn't. You may also not be correct, and might achieve different/better decisions if you considered other opinions too. And while you feel that we cannot ever know all of the major components of reality, it is still a possibility that we might, (and indeed it is the belief/hope of many, that we may yet do so at some point in future).

Can we ever, no matter how hard we try, think of something we don't know? If we've never heard of it how can we think of it? So it's not possible. But yet, with what we know, we want to investigate something immense, beyond calculation.


I'm sorry but that is entirely incorrect. Of course it is possible to imagine something that we don't know. Both religion and science have done exactly that - probably throughout the existence of Homo Sapiens. We may not always be right, but we have progressed entirely through such speculation.

So how do we find something which has nothing to do with knowledge?


I don't know why you say that speculation doesn't have a basis in knowledge - it almost always does. We observe things that seem to have no explanation and we consider/speculate about possible answers. That is the nature of what we do - even in some aspects of our daily lives - whether its tax returns or Donald Trump!

So how do we investigate the unknown?
It's quite simple, we can't.


Again, I'm sorry but that's another ridiculous statement. When people speculated about Dark Matter because of effects they observed in the distortion of light when looking at the stars, many asked 'on what basis could we possibly investigate what we couldn't see'? Well we did it by investigating the phenomenon which caused us to consider the possibility in the first place, and then finding imaginative always to do so. In that case by looking for 'broken halo' effects ie - partial halos that could be observed over a series of different nights/months and then assembling them into a complete picture which identified where such matter existed.
Similar things could be said about our ability to investigate the inner structure of atoms etc.

While there is currently no way to test/locate Dark Energy we may yet find ways in future, by asking the questions and speculating. However that speculation seems to be taking us in a small number of possible directions based on the evidence, (such as: another form of the current Matter/Energy that underpins physical reality, but without a source in the 3 dimensions we know about; or possibly even an entirely different form of energy - another type of stuff underpinning reality), and when we gain more information we might reduce the number of options down to one.

However if we start with an unassailable belief that probabilities prove/demonstrate determinism then we are clearly on the wrong path. We just happen to live in an age when a large number of declared scientists deny the fundamentals, and seem to therefore be discounting potentially valid options on the basis of doctrine alone. (Perhaps that's what you meant by being honest about the limitations of science). However, if they are to avoid falling into the the trap of religious activists they will find that an honest assessment of all ideas is generally better.

But there is a state of mind that is in a state of not-knowing. .... Try it sometime.


Really ?! ... Which world/mental state do you think that research scientists have, if not a long-standing position of not knowing what the answer is?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 26th, 2020, 9:20 am 

Hi hyksos

As I said to charon above, the purpose of being honest about findings and not overblowing them to claim something that they are not, is to prevent potentially valid explanations being excluded on the basis of dogma alone. In this case, dogmas such as : everything must be deterministic; or that there can only be one type of stuff underpinning reality.

You have previously declared that you believe the realm of quantum mechanics contains aspects which are not deterministic, and I believe that you did that on the basis of observed effects rather than mathematics, (because you have tried to defend some of the mathematical mis-statements that have occurred on other threads, (with good intentions)).

However, if there is any strong, (or better still, proven), example of non-determinism, then, as I have said before, we need to consider what that means.

People who cannot accept the implication that non-determinism MUST ultimately mean that there is either something that occurs without cause, or must arise from an influence outside the known universe - have therefore tried to balance their deterministic ideas by hidden variables; or seeking influences from 'other dimensions'; or trying to change the current perceptions of what Matter/Energy can do alone - often without sensible evidence.

They will seemingly do all of these things to avoid a small number of possibilities which are outside the 'clique of accepted doctrine' which deems that the things they are not prepared to consider are:
events without a cause; or something from nothing; or a 2nd type of stuff underpinning reality...

even if these would provide quite simple explanations to the problems being encountered and in a more believable way than either denying the evidence, or dreaming up even more challenging possibilities, (such as hidden dimensions that have no evidence, or even any concept of their physical manifestation).

What is it that demands that these possibilities be excluded? Doctrine.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby charon on June 26th, 2020, 2:02 pm 

Suz -

you often seem to argue that there is no point in speculating about reality because we will only ever know part of the story - no matter what we find; while at the same time saying (above and elsewhere) that scientific research is valid because it has transformed our lives from being cavemen/women into people who can enjoy life etc..


That's not a contradiction. Of course science has improved our lives but that's not the same as answering much deeper and more fundamental questions about life. Science may be asking those questions but, frankly, they're short on answers. But excellent on washing machines and going into space!

If you want to debate them


I don't :-)

it must be true that what we perceive about the world around us doesn't immediately square with the reality as identified by science - so while scientific theory tries to truly explain what we perceive, it must also be true that our headline perception is an illusion when compared to the scientific explanation.


That's because, since they discovered QM, they've separated what they've found there from the old Newtonian stuff. I maintain that separation is an illusion. Life is a whole.

It's like saying something is two different things when viewed from two different angles. It's not. I believe there are many scientists and others who say that there's still an underlying order despite the apparent contradictions.

it must again be correct that our mental construct is an illusion rather than the direct reality.


Any mental construct isn't the thing it represents. My idea of, say, the Himalayas isn't the Himalayas. But don't say the construct itself is an illusion, it's not. It's a thought-form, or anything else one likes to call it.

especially when these points have been made to you in the past, and you haven't provided any argument against these points.


I thought I had, or I might have missed them. Can you show me any?

You very clearly ask 'what's the point in trying?'


I've never said that. All I said about scientific endeavours was that they were limited, which they obviously are. The limited can't find the limitless. And life is the limitless.

why do you dismiss future efforts as not being worthwhile. I have said it before and I say it again - I feel that giving up is defeatist and will not help future generations.


I've never said, or meant, anything like that. Many scientists, Einstein included, have said the same thing.

you handle your life within your sense of reality, in your way, that yours is the only valid perception of reality


You're making it personal. I wouldn't be limited to 'my' reality or 'my' perception. It's not mine or anybody else's, reality is reality and perception is perception.

Of course it is possible to imagine something that we don't know.


How? Think of something now, anything you want. It's come from your knowledge, hasn't it? If you hadn't got the knowledge it couldn't be done. Be simple about it.

I don't know why you say that speculation doesn't have a basis in knowledge


You're not quoting me correctly today, Suz. I never said that. Of course it does, otherwise with what do I speculate?

"So how do we investigate the unknown?
It's quite simple, we can't."


Again, I'm sorry but that's another ridiculous statement.


Steady on :-)

We can only investigate what is already known - otherwise we wouldn't know it was there to investigate - and that may unearth further discoveries. But that's not investigating the unknown, that's investigating the known.

Which world/mental state do you think that research scientists have, if not a long-standing position of not knowing what the answer is?


Not knowing the answer to something is only a partial state. I don't know what will happen if I mix, say, bleach with gasoline so I can find out.

But I'm talking about a mind in a state of complete unknowing, which is non-recognition, non-experiencing. Not 'about' something but in itself.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby hyksos on June 26th, 2020, 2:07 pm 

What is it that demands that these possibilities be excluded? Doctrine.


Right. The doctrine here is something they call the "causal closure of the physical". I'm definitely not an advocate of this doctrine, and I have only really seen it used seriously on blogs.


People who cannot accept the implication that non-determinism MUST ultimately mean that there is either something that occurs without cause, or must arise from an influence outside the known universe - have therefore tried to balance their deterministic ideas by hidden variables; or seeking influences from 'other dimensions'; or trying to change the current perceptions of what Matter/Energy can do alone - often without sensible evidence.


For the title you used the phrase "Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?". What was your intended meaning of the choice of the word "deny" there? Did you mean to imply that the denial is a problem/error , or were you using "deny" as a sneer?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 26th, 2020, 4:02 pm 

Hi hyksos

In the OP I asked a question.
If Determinist maths says that for a precise start point there can only be one inevitable outcome from the factors at work, then the multiple outcomes implied by probabilities must, at face value, contradict that.

If however you say that there are still factors that would explain the different outcomes on a determinist basis, you either have to play the hidden variables card, or accept that something can break the Determinist principle without a cause. I thought I had made that point.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 26th, 2020, 4:08 pm 

charon

All that I can say is that despite your denials, your original posts read in a different way.
You also refer to your own perception of reality and how that seems to you, and how you might deal with current issues - not necessarily how others might do so.

I would finally say that illusion doesn't have to stray into the QM world. As examples...

We might perceive something as flat and smooth but looking under a microscope shows that it isn't.
Science argues that objects don't have colour - it is the light bouncing off them that provides the illusion of colour... etc.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby hyksos on June 26th, 2020, 7:18 pm 

If however you say that there are still factors that would explain the different outcomes on a determinist basis, you either have to play the hidden variables card, or accept that something can break the Determinist principle without a cause. I thought I had made that point.

Maybe. There is also Many Worlds. And there might be other interpretations I can't remember at the moment.

(On a personal note) I am comfortable with no cause, and I don't advocate determinism in any context.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby charon on June 26th, 2020, 8:20 pm 

Suz -

All that I can say is that despite your denials, your original posts read in a different way.


Or that's the way you're reading them! After all, a denial is a denial. I'm a straightforward person. If I say it's not so, it isn't. You don't have to believe me, of course.

You also refer to your own perception of reality and how that seems to you, and how you might deal with current issues - not necessarily how others might do so.


You see, this is one of the problems. Someone says something which, admittedly, might not be understood. Then they say 'Oh, that's only your own idea/perception/theory, etc'.

Not at all, I'm not trotting out some personal ideas. I'm pointing something out which is quite self-evident. For example, I said before that if you (or anybody) thinks of something, it must come from their knowledge. That's not my personal theory, it's so. It can be tested a hundred times.

I would finally say that illusion doesn't have to stray into the QM world.


Where on earth did I say that?

We might perceive something as flat and smooth but looking under a microscope shows that it isn't.
Science argues that objects don't have colour - it is the light bouncing off them that provides the illusion of colour... etc.


Yes, I know about all that. Water isn't actually wet!

Is this actually what we're discussing here? This is your thread. Is this what you want to discuss?
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby lateralsuz on June 28th, 2020, 5:01 am 

Hi hyksos

I realise that you are open to the 'taboo' possibilities, as am I.
However if we enter a debate which is to test them - (which this is) - then I felt that we had to maintain precise descriptions.

In the context of summarised logic where we started - the 'Many Worlds' theory would be another hidden variable. There are many permutations of hidden variable. As we both realise, these are all ways to bring non-determinist observations back into the determinist fold.... without evidence.

However these are the subtle admissions that we don't have a causal explanation within Matter/Energy as it is currently understood. I feel that some (a number) of determinist answers will be found to the myriad of unexplained observations that fall into this category - but other observations seem to fundamentally break the very principles on which we base our understanding of Matter/Energy. That's why I like Finipolscie's approach - because he effectively categorised things on that basis.

On that basis of speculation, I feel that the simplest way to resolve a dilemma is probably our strongest avenue of investigation, and for that reason I find the Dualist ideas the most compelling - even if they are rather short of detail.

That doesn't make them true - but I would have thought that they would warrant better consideration.

I am pretty sure that Max Tegmark was aware of Dualism before he launched into his Many World's theory. I feel it shows the extremity of his concern from the logical examples that he tried to explain, that he had to resort to such a theory to balance his mathematical models.

So these are all part of a debate that should be occurring - ie:
"What might the nature of non-determinism be?"

I personally think that Determinism has its place, but only within certain boundaries. Part of the debate should be where we draw those boundaries.

Beyond those boundaries, the next question is why we don't experience total chaos if things can genuinely happen without cause (ie. true randomness or spontaneity (incl. spontaneous creation, where the equations definitely wouldn't balance)). In broad terms I think there are a small number of possibilities incl.....

1 - A very narrow set of touch points between the two 'realms'
2 - A tendency for structure/form/rules to coalesce around things with existing form/structure (as is a common approach in QM) - ie. a tendency to conform.
3 - The possibility that existence might reflect balanced opposites, as in the old mathematical approach of nothing splitting into equal amounts of positive and negative; or the more sophisticated Taoist approach where there are 3 balanced elements.... etc.

I'd be interested to hear anyone's suggestions of others.
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Re: Does the use of Probabilities deny a causal explanation?

Postby charon on June 28th, 2020, 5:40 am 

why we don't experience total chaos if things can genuinely happen without cause


Because the absence of cause doesn't equal chaos. The universe is in perfect order. Does that order have a cause?
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