Causality and Determinism

Causality and Determinism
prothero
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 12:13 AM:
Subject: Causality and Determinism
In seems that in many discussions the concept of causality and the metaphysical doctrine of determinism are used interchangable as though one concept can not be properly separated from the other. This is particularly a problem in discussions of non fixity of the future, alternative possiblities and the stochastic probabilities of nature.

Does the concept of causality imply that the doctrine of metaphysical determinism is necessarily true?. If condition A could result in outcomes B, C. or D can it not still be said A causes B,C or D but not in a metaphysical determinate fashion. Would not extremely high probabilites appear much the same as determinism but in other types of systems the true probablistic nature of physical laws would begin to show?

Revista de FilosofíaVol. 29 Núm. 2 (2004): 99-115Causality and Determinism:Tension, or Outright Conflict? Carl HOEFER

…There has been a strong tendency in the philosophical literature to conflate determinism and causality, or at the very least, to see the former as a particularly strong form of the latter. The tendency persists even today. When the editors of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy asked me to write the entry on determinism, I found that the title was to be …Causal determinism".1I therefore felt obliged to point out in the opening paragraph that determinism actually has little or nothing to do with causation; for the philosophical tradition has it all wrong …


Rosen, D. (1978), "In Defense of a Probabilistic Theory of Causality." Philosophy of Science 45: 604 – 613.


Suppes, P. (1970), A Probabilistic Theory of Causality. Amsterdam: North-Holland.


Hesslow, G. (1976), "Two Notes on the Probabilistic Approach to Causality." Philosophy of Science 43: 290 – 92.


Journal of Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 2001.UK: Imprint Academic. Vol.8, no.3. (pp 35-59). July 2001.
SELF-ORGANIZATION, SELF-REFERENCE AND INTER-INFLUENCES IN MULTILEVEL WEBS : BEYOND CAUSALITY AND DETERMINISM Christine Hardy, Ph.D.
Keywords: Self-organization, self-reference, autopoiesis, multilevel webs, inter-influences
ABSTRACT: Von Bertalanffy stated that, at a certain threshold of complexity—namely when numerous forces are simultaneously interacting—systems’ dynamics belong to a class other than causal mechanism, whether linear or circular. My objective here is to develop Von Bertalanffy’s point and to sort out a class of systems, the multilevel web, in which various forces or subsystems interact simultaneously within and across levels. Webs thus exhibit dynamical evolution through the cooperation and co-evolution of processes.
stephnlawrnce
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 6:30 AM:

prothero wrote:


If condition A could result in outcomes B, C. or D can it not still be said A causes B,C or D but not in a metaphysical determinate fashion.


No. Say I A) flick the switch on the kettle and the water B) boils, can it make sense to say all else exactly as it was that flicking the switch could have caused C)the water not to boil? No, if the water had not boiled all else exactly the same that would have been at random.

Also if A. could cause either B. or C. it follows that A. has nothing to do with why B. follows rather than C. (or visa versa). So in the context of the free will debate you are just slipping a luck factor in between the cause and the effect, which is not helpful and actually would be rather unhelpful if true.


stephnlawrnce
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 9:31 AM:

…There has been a strong tendency in the philosophical literature to conflate determinism and causality, or at the very least, to see the former as a particularly strong form of the latter. The tendency persists even today. When the editors of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy asked me to write the entry on determinism, I found that the title was to be …Causal determinism".1I therefore felt obliged to point out in the opening paragraph that determinism actually has little or nothing to do with causation


Well I think it's this that is all wrong. Determinism is what follows from the assumption that everything is caused. That is where the idea of one physically possible future given the initial conditions comes from. And that is causal determinism a.k.a dependent origination.
rachMiel
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 10:23 AM:

stephnlawrnce wrote:
Determinism is what follows from the assumption that everything is caused. That is where the idea of one physically possible future given the initial conditions comes from. And that is causal determinism a.k.a dependent origination.

Buddhist karma -- which is built on dependent origination -- is non-linear, thus allows for different outcomes and free will.

richrf
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 11:52 AM:

Coming at it from a different point of view, one can look at Bohm's Implicate Order model for a quantum mechanics interpretation that is causal but not deterministic.

Note that the "electron" can be flowing along any path, but the most likely path are along the darker shades of the quantum potential (this is the quantum wave equation). But any path may be taken, which is demonstrated in laboratory experiments. There are no known "laws of nature" that determine one path vs. another. Thus the probabilistic nature of events.

But the question still remains, what are the underlying "causes" of this probabilistic nature? One can say that the quantum field is the cause and leave it at that. Outcome is still probablistic and not determistic. But one can also develop a "deeper" non-deterministic causal model an example being Bohm's Implicate Order in which Bohm posits that one of the causes may be free choice.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-bohm/

"But Bohmian mechanics is just such a deeper explanation. It resolves in a rather straightforward manner the dilemma of the appearance of both particle and wave properties in one and the same phenomenon: Bohmian mechanics is a theory of motion describing a particle (or particles) guided by a wave. Here we have a family of Bohmian trajectories for the two-slit experiment."


Figure 1: An ensemble of trajectories for the two-slit experiment, uniform in the slits.
(Adapted by Gernot Bauer from Philippidis et al. 1979.)



Edited by richrf on Jan 27, 2013 - 11:58 AM
prothero
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 11:54 AM:

stephnlawrnce wrote:


Well I think it's this that is all wrong. Determinism is what follows from the assumption that everything is caused. That is where the idea of one physically possible future given the initial conditions comes from. And that is causal determinism a.k.a dependent origination.


Philosophy should serve to expand and explore your notions of the possible explanations of reality. Try considering the possibility for just a few moments instead of dogmatically adhering to the postion you already hold. It there any empirical or scientifc proof that causality could not be separated from metaphysical determinism?

And I am not interested in going off on free will here.
richrf
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 12:32 PM:

prothero wrote:


Philosophy should serve to expand and explore your notions of the possible explanations of reality. Try considering the possibility for just a few moments instead of dogmatically adhering to the postion you already hold. It there any empirical or scientifc proof that causality could not be separated from metaphysical determinism?

And I am not interested in going off on free will here.


I read quickly through some of the articles on this subject and I find them for the most part wanting since they are just aserting that processes are stochastic in nature. Fine, but where does that leave us. After grinding through one article, the writer finally makes the obvious point which is unavoidable:

A Probabilistic Theory of Causality

"But I do not mean to suggest that a probabilistic theory of causality can in itself provide a solution that is satisfactory on all counts. In my own view, many of the traditional dilemmas of free will are now replaced by dilemmas of information and how information is introduced into a causal system. I hope on another ocassion to expand on the conceptual conflict between causality and information. This conflict is for me the main continuing difficulty of the classical problem of determinism and free will."

In other words, the real problem has been deferred yet again. Only Bergson is fearless enough to hit it head on.
stephnlawrnce
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 1:00 PM:

prothero wrote:


Philosophy should serve to expand and explore your notions of the possible explanations of reality.


OK.

Try considering the possibility for just a few moments instead of dogmatically adhering to the postion you already hold.


It's not dogma. I give examples and reasons, which can be challenged.

It there any empirical or scientifc proof that causality could not be separated from metaphysical determinism?


The problem is it's illogical. No you won't find empirical evidence for that, you just have to deal with it on the level of logic.

If everything is caused, then we need to talk about how something else could happen all else exactly the same and *still* be caused.

Again I'm not being dogmatic, I'm saying I can't see a possible way and that lays down the challenge for you to find one.

What you do is claim it is possible without seeing how.
stephnlawrnce
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 1:04 PM:

richrf wrote:
Coming at it from a different point of view, one can look at Bohm's Implicate Order model for a quantum mechanics interpretation that is causal but not deterministic.


It's a hidden variables interpretation which means it is deterministic.

From your link.

Bohmian mechanics, which is also called the de Broglie-Bohm theory, the pilot-wave model, and the causal interpretation of quantum mechanics, is a version of quantum theory discovered by Louis de Broglie in 1927 and rediscovered by David Bohm in 1952. It is the simplest example of what is often called a hidden variables interpretation of quantum mechanics.


richrf
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Posted Jan 27, 2013 - 1:31 PM:

stephnlawrnce wrote:


It's a hidden variables interpretation which means it is deterministic.

Not too sidetrack the thread, but Bohm specifically stated that while his interpretation is causal, it should not be taken as implying a form of complete determinism, since it opens the door for creative operations of underlying, and yet subtler levels of reality.

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