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Does determinism debunk praxeology?

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nandnor Posted: Mon, Jan 11 2010 3:07 PM

Does determinism debunk praxeology? One of the praxeological claims is that man acts, makes choices based on his valuations of how he perceives the world. It views the process of making choices as an unknown size, impossible to model or determine, hence the rejection of positicist economics. However if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible, if the same parameters are given to a sufficiently accurate intelligence simulation.

And also the whole idea of action would be just a comfortable abstraction of the fact that at a physical level, the "human action" is just a mechanical causal chain just like a water droplet vaporizing or an acid eating metal.

That makes it feel like praxeology is just mental masturbation like any other religious or philosophical treatise, as far as explaining the objective world is concerned.

 

 

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nandnor:
However if the world is deterministic

Is it?

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Even if man doesn't act he still gives the appearence of doing so and we can still make pretty much the same assumptions. You choose, or at least think that you choose, to do somting and you do this based off of your value judments, therefore if our world is detirminsitic how would this be any different?

 

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liberty student:
Is it?

That is kind of ironic, asking whether the world is determined or not as if we have free-will in deciding whether it is or isn't. I remember going to a small debate at my school concerning the existence of God and one of the students during the Q&A section said 'I believe in determinism' and the philosophers laughed and one of them said 'So you are determined to believe in determinism.' I mean if determinism exists then whether we believe in it seems inconsequential. Ok, I'm rambling. 

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nandnor:
Does determinism debunk praxeology?
no

nandnor:
. However if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible, if the same parameters are given to a sufficiently accurate intelligence simulation.

when such modelling becomes possible we may switch to it, but till then the intentional stance is the only way to get results. i assume you are interested in results ? Smile

nandnor:
And also the whole idea of action would be just a comfortable abstraction of the fact that at a physical level, the "human action" is just a mechanical causal chain just like a water droplet vaporizing or an acid eating metal.
yes, there is a mechanical causal chain, but the benefits to applying a teleological analysis are so obvious you demonstrate them yourself continuously and could hardly do otherwise.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Conza88 replied on Mon, Jan 11 2010 7:28 PM

nandnor:
Does determinism debunk praxeology?

The Problem of Free Will

Before proceeding further, we must pause to consider the validity of free will, for it is curious that the determinist dogma has so often been accepted as the uniquely scientific position. And while many philosophers have demonstrated the existence of free will, the concept has all too rarely been applied to the "social sciences."

In the first place, each human being knows universally from introspection that he chooses. The positivists and behaviorists may scoff at introspection all they wish, but it remains true that the introspective knowledge of a conscious man that he is conscious and acts is a fact of reality. What, indeed, do the determinists have to offer to set against introspective fact? Only a poor and misleading analogy from the physical sciences. It is true that all mindless matter is determined and purposeless. But it is highly inappropriate, and moreover question-begging, simply and uncritically to apply the model of physics to man.

Why, indeed, should we accept determinism in nature? The reason we say that things are determined is that every existing thing must have a specific existence. Having a specific existence, it must have certain definite, definable, delimitable attributes, that is, every thing must have a specific nature. Every being, then, can act or behave only in accordance with its nature, and any two beings can interact only in accord with their respective natures. Therefore, the actions of every being are caused by, determined by, its nature.[3]

But while most things have no consciousness and therefore pursue no goals, it is an essential attribute of man's nature that he has consciousness, and therefore that his actions are self-determined by the choices his mind makes.

At very best, the application of determinism to man is just an agenda for the future. After several centuries of arrogant proclamations, no determinist has come up with anything like a theory determining all of men's actions. Surely the burden of proof must rest on the one advancing a theory, particularly when the theory contradicts man's primary impressions. Surely we can, at the very least, tell the determinists to keep quiet until they can offer their determinations — including, of course, their advance determinations of each of our reactions to their determining theory. But there is far more that can be said. For determinism, as applied to man, is a self-contradictory thesis, since the man who employs it relies implicitly on the existence of free will.

If we are determined in the ideas we accept, then X, the determinist, is determined to believe in determinism, while Y, the believer in free will, is also determined to believe in his own doctrine. Since man's mind is, according to determinism, not free to think and come to conclusions about reality, it is absurd for X to try to convince Y or anyone else of the truth of determinism. In short, the determinist must rely, for the spread of his ideas, on the nondetermined, free-will choices of others, on their free will to adopt or reject ideas.[4] In the same way, the various brands of determinists — behaviorists, positivists, Marxists, and so on — implicitly claim special exemption for themselves from their own determined systems.[5] But if a man cannot affirm a proposition without employing its negation, he is not only caught in an inextricable self-contradiction; he is conceding to the negation the status of an axiom.Devil

A corollary self-contradiction: the determinists profess to be able, some day, to determine what man's choices and actions will be. But, on their own grounds, their own knowledge of this determining theory is itself determined. How then can they aspire to know all, if the extent of their own knowledge is itself determined, and therefore arbitrarily delimited? In fact, if our ideas are determined, then we have no way of freely revising our judgments and of learning truth — whether the truth of determinism or of anything else.[7]

Thus, the determinist, to advocate his doctrine, must place himself and his theory outside the allegedly universally determined realm, that is, he must employ free will. This reliance of determinism on its negation is an instance of a wider truth: that it is self-contradictory to use reason in any attempt to deny the validity of reason as a means of attaining knowledge. Such self-contradiction is implicit in such currently fashionable sentiments as "reason shows us that reason is weak," or "the more we know, the more we know how little we know."Music

Some may object that man is not really free because he must obey natural laws. To say that man is not free because he is not able to do anything he may possibly desire, however, confuses freedom and power.[9] It is clearly absurd to employ as a definition of "freedom" the power of an entity to perform an impossible action, to violate its nature.[10]

Determinists often imply that a man's ideas are necessarily determined by the ideas of others, of "society." Yet A and B can hear the same idea propounded; A can adopt it as valid while B will not. Each man, therefore, has the free choice of adopting or not adopting an idea or value. It is true that many men may uncritically adopt the ideas of others; yet this process cannot regress infinitely. At some point in time, the idea originated, that is, the idea was not taken from others, but was arrived at by some mind independently and creatively. This is logically necessary for any given idea. "Society," therefore, cannot dictate ideas. If someone grows up in a world where people generally believe that "all redheads are demons," he is free, as he grows up, to rethink the problem and arrive at a different conclusion. If this were not true, ideas, once adopted, could never have been changed. We conclude, therefore, that true science decrees determinism for physical nature and free will for man, and for the same reason: that every thing must act in accordance with its specific nature. And since men are free to adopt ideas and to act upon them, it is never events or stimuli external to the mind that cause its ideas; rather the mind freely adopts ideas about external events. A savage, an infant, and a civilized man will each react in entirely different ways to the sight of the same stimulus — be it a fountain pen, an alarm clock, or a machine gun, for each mind has different ideas about the object's meaning and qualities.[11] Let us therefore never again say that the Great Depression of the 1930s caused men to adopt socialism or interventionism (or that poverty causes people to adopt Communism). The depression existed, and men were moved to think about this striking event; but that they adopted socialism or its equivalent as the way out was not determined by the event; they might just as well have chosen laissez-faire or Buddhism or any other attempted solution. The deciding factor was the idea that people chose to adopt.

What led the people to adopt particular ideas? Here the historian may enumerate and weigh various factors, but he must always stop short at the ultimate freedom of the will. Thus, in any given matter, a person may freely decide either to think about a problem independently or to accept uncritically the ideas offered by others. Certainly, the bulk of the people, especially in abstract matters, choose to follow the ideas offered by the intellectuals. At the time of the Great Depression, there was a host of intellectuals offering the nostrum of statism or socialism as a cure for the depression, while very few suggested laissez-faire or absolute monarchy.

The realization that ideas, freely adopted, determine social institutions, and not vice versa, illuminates many critical areas of the study of man. Rousseau and his host of modern followers, who hold that man is good, but corrupted by his institutions, must finally wither under the query: And who but men created these institutions? The tendency of many modern intellectuals to worship the primitive (also the childlike — especially the child "progressively" educated — the "natural" life of the noble savage of the South Seas, and so on) has perhaps the same roots. We are also told repeatedly that differences between largely isolated tribes and ethnic groups are "culturally determined": tribe X being intelligent or peaceful because of its X-culture; tribe Y, dull or warlike because of Y-culture. If we fully realize that the men of each tribe created its own culture (unless we are to assume its creation by some mystic deus ex machina), we see that this popular "explanation" is no better than explaining the sleep-inducing properties of opium by its "dormitive power." Indeed, it is worse, because it adds the error of social determinism.

It will undoubtedly be charged that this discussion of free will and determinism is "one-sided" and that it leaves out the alleged fact that all of life is multicausal and interdependent. We must not forget, however, that the very goal of science is simpler explanations of wider phenomena. In this case, we are confronted with the fact that there can logically be only one ultimate sovereign over a man's actions: either his own free will or some cause outside that will. There is no other alternative, there is no middle ground, and therefore the fashionable eclecticism of modern scholarship must in this case yield to the hard realities of the Law of the Excluded Middle.

If free will has been vindicated, how can we prove the existence of consciousness itself? The answer is simple: to prove means to make evident something not yet evident. Yet some propositions may be already evident to the self, that is, self-evident. A self-evident axiom, as we have indicated, will be a proposition which cannot be contradicted without employing the axiom itself in the attempt. And the existence of consciousness is not only evident to all of us through direct introspection, but is also a fundamental axiom, for the very act of doubting consciousness must itself be performed by a consciousness.[12] Thus, the behaviorist who spurns consciousness for "objective" laboratory data must rely on the consciousness of his laboratory associates to report the data to him.

The key to scientism is its denial of the existence of individual consciousness and will.[13] This takes two main forms: applying mechanical analogies from the physical sciences to individual men, and applying organismic analogies to such fictional collective wholes as "society." The latter course attributes consciousness and will, not to individuals, but to some collective organic whole of which the individual is merely a determined cell. Both methods are aspects of the rejection of individual consciousness.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 11 2010 8:04 PM

There is nothing implied by determinism that contradicts praxeology, only that man's choices are determined by preferences, which are themselves determined by previous choices, impulses, values and frames.

There is no such thing as free will (insofar as free will stands for freedom from causality) and so theoretically a positivist could, with perfect information, model the behavior of actors in the real world. Of course such a model would be computationally intractable, and makes the Travelling Salesman Problem seem like a walk in the park.

Rothbard, unfortunately, adds nothing to the discussion. I find myself respecting him less and less as a philosopher.

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thelion replied on Mon, Jan 11 2010 9:01 PM

zefreak:

There is nothing implied by determinism that contradicts praxeology, only that man's choices are determined by preferences, which are themselves determined by previous choices, impulses, values and frames.

There is no such thing as free will (insofar as free will stands for freedom from causality) and so theoretically a positivist could, with perfect information, model the behavior of actors in the real world. Of course such a model would be computationally intractable, and makes the Travelling Salesman Problem seem like a walk in the park.

Rothbard, unfortunately, adds nothing to the discussion. I find myself respecting him less and less as a philosopher.

Totally correct.

The problem of choices being dependent upon choices is called Jevon's Library (in one of his logic books). It has as many additional possible choices as a combination of combination of a combination of a combination, and so on, every time an additional choice is made. (Like the number of possible books which can be written on blank pages.)

Hayek builds on this, more or less, in The Sensory Order, to show how knowledge gained from just a few impulses is more and more a priori: a product of classification, each time a new impulse occurs, such that order of the physical neural connections in the brain is changing faster than anything, including another brain, can measure and classify it.

This a priori knowledge cannot be know except to a perfectly identical person. But there are no such two or more people! Even already at the start of life, neural connections forming the memory (which is an interpreting apparatus, not a storing apparatus) are different, hence every person has some knowledge different from others and acts differently from others in response to the same impuse.

In any case. Time is not symmetric : see Roger Penrose's photoelement and one-way mirror experiment. If a light source shines on a two-way mirror, with two options: it goes through towards a photodetector or into a wall. 50% probability either one. If time can be "reversed", then what happens? If the light hit the photodetector, it is50% emitted back toward the light source, through the two way mirror, or 50% it is reflected into the wall. That's okay: photoelements can emit light if time sequence is taken as "reversed".

If it hit the wall: it goes either 50% to the light source (which is modeled by physics) or 50% reflected into the photodetector! But we know that wall cannot emit light into a photodetector. The probability is false, because it is not 50%: it is 0%. Time is one-way deterministic.

Without symmetric time, it is impossible to know a simpler state from a more complex in all cases. So Hayek's elucidation of the externally immeasurable individuality implicit Mises' idea of a priori knowledge holds (although he did nothing more since 1952 on the topic of a priori knowledge after The Counter-Revolution of Science and the Sensory Order). 

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i don't buy it.

I am deliberate in what I do.  I am not a robot and somehow all the actions of all humans can be calculated into a machine and voila, everything can be centrally planned.  What I deal with today, tomorrow will spontaneously offer something anew.

Also using light to figure out how humans operate isn't very convincing at all.  I think it's too much a reduction, and the analogy collapses as it's only about light and a mirror.

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zefreak replied on Tue, Jan 12 2010 1:32 PM

wilderness:

i don't buy it.

I am deliberate in what I do.  I am not a robot and somehow all the actions of all humans can be calculated into a machine and voila, everything can be centrally planned.  What I deal with today, tomorrow will spontaneously offer something anew.

Also using light to figure out how humans operate isn't very convincing at all.  I think it's too much a reduction, and the analogy collapses as it's only about light and a mirror.

You might want to read some of the literature concerning the subject before you make up your mind. It may not be the most intuitive conclusion to be reached, but neither are quantum mechanics or relativity. Read Metzinger, Hofstadter, Dennet regarding consciousness and determinism.

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Angurse replied on Tue, Jan 12 2010 1:37 PM

wilderness:
i don't buy it.

There is some very interesting literature on the subject (as Zefreak mentioned) none of its conclusive though.

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Thank you zefreak!  A quick google lead me here: http://reason.com/archives/2003/05/01/pulling-our-own-strings/

"Dennett: Because if determinism is true, then there's less randomness. There's less unpredictability. To have freedom, you need the capacity to make reliable judgments about what's going to happen next, so you can base your action on it."

So if we accept Dennett's assertion on face-value not only is determinism compatible with praxeology, but it is necessary for it to function.

"...I feel, for instance, that I have the right to do anything I please. But, if I do something you don't like, I think you have the right to kill me." -George Carlin
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zefreak replied on Tue, Jan 12 2010 4:34 PM

ThreeTrees:

Thank you zefreak!  A quick google lead me here: http://reason.com/archives/2003/05/01/pulling-our-own-strings/

"Dennett: Because if determinism is true, then there's less randomness. There's less unpredictability. To have freedom, you need the capacity to make reliable judgments about what's going to happen next, so you can base your action on it."

So if we accept Dennett's assertion on face-value not only is determinism compatible with praxeology, but it is necessary for it to function.

Sure thing. One of the best clarifications of deterministic 'free will' is Hofstadter's domino chain metaphor found in I Am A Strange Loop. If I can find it online I will post it. It offers a better understanding of 'hard' determinism and free will. Dennett has some great ideas but that Reason interview seems to deal more with political freedom and the implications of determinism rather than free will as is usually meant within philosophy.

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Joel replied on Tue, Jan 12 2010 4:53 PM

nandnor:

Does determinism debunk praxeology?

No.  Praxeology is the study of actions which are based on a person's ends ranked in their value scale.  Praxeology takes the ends and their ranking as given.  Therefore praxeology does not explain where ends (and the ranking) come from.  It does not affect  the validity of praxeology whether ends (and the ranking) come from determinism or something else.

Thus also praxeology is still useful regardless whether ends come from determinism.

 

 

As for my personal beliefs: I don't think human will is deterministic.  I also reject the assumption that will must either be deterministic or random.  Rather, will may be a causal factor different and apart from both determinism and randomness.  Furthermore I think true "randomness" does not exist.  I also suspect that determinism may not actually exist either and that the source of all cause is will.

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ThreeTrees:
"Dennett: Because if determinism is true, then there's less randomness. There's less unpredictability. To have freedom, you need the capacity to make reliable judgments about what's going to happen next, so you can base your action on it."

That's a better explanation.  It still includes free-will the way I've always understood it so it's not surprising.  He's only defining what judgement is in the way it's been defined back to Aristotle.  It's the whole basis for metaphysics to know what is, then have knowledge of what it is, and thereby a person can make correct actions pertaining to their judgement of what that is, is.  It's what happens when a person walks and takes steps with their feet.  If that isn't flat ground, if that's not the reality of what is infront of me and my knowledge of flat grounds is not helpful, then when I try to take a step and it's actually a cliff - I'm doomed.  In other words - bad judgement call.

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Merlin replied on Sun, Jan 17 2010 1:30 PM

If I remember correctly Mises was a determined determinist Tongue Tiedand he wrote an entire book discussing this question. The only thing about that book I don’t like is that he concedes that perhaps Quantum Physics are founded.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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zefreak replied on Sun, Jan 17 2010 2:01 PM

Merlin:

 

If I remember correctly Mises was a determined determinist Tongue Tiedand he wrote an entire book discussing this question. The only thing about that book I don’t like is that he concedes that perhaps Quantum Physics are founded.

founded? Is that an incomplete sentence or do you reject that QM has validity?

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Merlin replied on Sun, Jan 17 2010 2:32 PM

zefreak:
founded? Is that an incomplete sentence or do you reject that QM has validity?

Strictly speaking, I reject the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. In themselves, the findings of quantum physics are nothing out of the ordinary.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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I. Ryan replied on Sun, Jan 17 2010 2:45 PM

nandnor:

Does determinism debunk praxeology? One of the praxeological claims is that man acts, makes choices based on his valuations of how he perceives the world. It views the process of making choices as an unknown size, impossible to model or determine, hence the rejection of positicist economics. However if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible, if the same parameters are given to a sufficiently accurate intelligence simulation.

And also the whole idea of action would be just a comfortable abstraction of the fact that at a physical level, the "human action" is just a mechanical causal chain just like a water droplet vaporizing or an acid eating metal.

That makes it feel like praxeology is just mental masturbation like any other religious or philosophical treatise, as far as explaining the objective world is concerned.

1. Does the fact that we might eventually reduce biology to physics make biology seem like "just mental masturbation like any other religious or philosophical treatise, as far as explaining the objective world is concerned"?

2. Does the fact that we already reduced some of chemistry to physics make the discoveries of the chemists who preceded that unification seem like "just mental masturbation like any other religious or philosophical treatise, as far as explaining the objective world is concerned"?

3. Does the fact that physicists might unify our understanding of the macro- and microscopic realms make, for example, the discoveries of Newton seem like "just mental masturbation like any other religious or philosophical treatise, as far as explaining the objective world is concerned"?

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Azure replied on Sun, Jan 17 2010 8:28 PM

Theoretically, modeling such a system is impossible as it would solve the halting problem.

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zefreak replied on Sun, Jan 17 2010 8:51 PM

Azure:

Theoretically, modeling such a system is impossible as it would solve the halting problem.

Would it? For sure such a model would be NP-hard but I don't understand how the halting problem would be relevant.

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Azure replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 1:39 AM

zefreak:

Would it? For sure such a model would be NP-hard but I don't understand how the halting problem would be relevant.

A model which can predict the exact quantum state of every particle in the universe at any given point in time? If it exists in this universe (the one it is simulating), then clearly it would have to simulate itself in the process, right? However, to simulate itself properly, the simulated version would ALSO have to be able to use its model just as accurately. But then the simulated version runs into the same problem. So then the simulated version has to simulate itself simulating itself simulating itself... Clearly such a thing can only exist if it does not interact with the universe that it is simulating (in which case it is useless as we cannot see the results), or if it compromises its accuracy (in which case it is no longer the uncertainty-banishing machine).

Furthermore even if such a machine WERE possible it wouldn't mean diddly-squat for Praxeology. Praxeology holds in cases where there is no uncertainty just as well as it holds in cases where there is.

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 3:00 AM

Haha, I guess I was envisioning a model that was much less ambitious.

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ktibuk replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:40 AM

Praxeology is value free thus determinism and praxeology aren't at odds.

But ethics is.  

Ethics requires free will.  If there is no free will and every action is a consequence of a prior event as the law of causality suggests, then all the ends that are chosen are actually "determined"  very early, maybe at the point of the big bang.

Still there is another side of the coin.

Let's say we have free will.

To chose ends one must not only have free will but foresee the future.  And to do this one still needs the law of causality  because to foresee the future one must realize certain causal relations that keep repeating, thus becoming laws.

An apple must always fall down when someone shakes the tree thus one can foresee the apple falling down when he shakes the tree again in the future.  If apple behaves randomly no one can choose an end regarding apples.

 

 

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 4:52 AM

Perhaps ethics is incompatible with determinism only at face value: after all, ethics are included into one’s perception of things, and might well come to influence his preferences, hence his actions. As long as such an influence is finite and potentially quantifiable, than ethics are nothing but one more weel into the determinist chain of cause-and-effect.

Really nothing is at odds with determinism, besides some very crass statements like: this or that is probabilistic in nature. Nothing is probabilistic in nature, that’s just a simple approximation for us to use. War and Peace nailed this once and for all, I believe.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:00 AM

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

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ktibuk replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:30 AM

"Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable."

If there is free will, "ought" can be derived from "is".

I don't know what you mean by falsification in this context.

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ktibuk replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:32 AM

"Perhaps ethics is incompatible with determinism only at face value: after all, ethics are included into one’s perception of things, and might well come to influence his preferences, hence his actions. As long as such an influence is finite and potentially quantifiable, than ethics are nothing but one more weel into the determinist chain of cause-and-effect."

Ethics is more than some influence.  It presupposes free will.  Without free will there is no meaning of "ought".  If determinism is true not only free will an illusion brought about by ignorance but ethics is an illusion as well.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 5:39 AM

ktibuk:

"Perhaps ethics is incompatible with determinism only at face value: after all, ethics are included into one’s perception of things, and might well come to influence his preferences, hence his actions. As long as such an influence is finite and potentially quantifiable, than ethics are nothing but one more weel into the determinist chain of cause-and-effect."

Ethics is more than some influence.  It presupposes free will.  Without free will there is no meaning of "ought".  If determinism is true not only free will an illusion brought about by ignorance but ethics is an illusion as well.

 

I agree that Ethics, at face-value, does presuppose Free Will, and the lack thereof would seem to invalidate ethics entirely. But I beg to differ. After all, why  mustn’t’ we se ethics as just a body of ideas that guides a person in his decisions, altering his preferences? Whatever Ethics is theoretically build upon, on practical terms what it doest is that it changes people’s preferences, and thus their action. I believe that this influence is fully consistent with cause-and-effect, and hence can, theoretically be fully predicted. After all, if ethics was practically based upon free will, we wouldn’t even be able to conceive it as an idea.

 

 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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Azure replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:24 AM

Does it even matter whether we have free will or not? If there's absolutely no way to distinguish between the two, it hardly seems worth fussing over.

I'd also have thought Bayes's theorem would have put an end to the debates over whether the world is "deterministic" or not, but what can you do...

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:34 AM

Azure:

I'd also have thought Bayes's theorem would have put an end to the debates over whether the world is "deterministic" or not, but what can you do...

When logic fails to help, probability is the foul science one resorts to in order to avoid consulting magicians.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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ktibuk replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:37 AM

"Does it even matter whether we have free will or not? If there's absolutely no way to distinguish between the two, it hardly seems worth fussing over."

I actually agree.  Whether there is free will or not one must and actually does act as if there is free will.

This is like, not being sure of the fact that what you are experiencing is just a dream or not.  We may be the imagination of another being but we must act as if we are not.  Because if you are a skeptic, you should be skeptical that you may actually be not a part of a dream.  That is why people do whatever they do, try to increase the probability of their survival even in their dreams.

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ktibuk replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:40 AM

"I agree that Ethics, at face-value, does presuppose Free Will, and the lack thereof would seem to invalidate ethics entirely. But I beg to differ. After all, why  mustn’t’ we se ethics as just a body of ideas that guides a person in his decisions, altering his preferences? "

You are changing the meaning of ethics.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 6:48 AM

ktibuk:

You are changing the meaning of ethics.

I don’t care about the meaning of ethics. I only care about its practical consequences.

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Merlin:
I don’t care about the meaning of ethics. I only care about its practical consequences.

if you don't know the meaning of ethics then it is impossible to know of an ethical consequence or what you call "practical consequence" that has to do with ethics.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 7:54 AM

ktibuk:

"Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable."

If there is free will, "ought" can be derived from "is".

I don't know what you mean by falsification in this context.

You cannot derive a normative statement from a positive statement, free will or no.

Falsification meaning normative propositions such as 'you should not kill' can neither be verified or falsified, under any conditions. Morality relies on intuition and revelation, which are on shaky epistemological ground.

“Elections are Futures Markets in Stolen Property.” - H. L. Mencken


 

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 8:02 AM

Azure:

Does it even matter whether we have free will or not? If there's absolutely no way to distinguish between the two, it hardly seems worth fussing over.

I'd also have thought Bayes's theorem would have put an end to the debates over whether the world is "deterministic" or not, but what can you do...

It matters to people trying to eliminate muddled reasoning and mysticism from our understanding of the universe.

How is Bayesian probability even relevant to the question of determinism?

 

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 8:58 AM

wilderness:

if you don't know the meaning of ethics then it is impossible to know of an ethical consequence or what you call "practical consequence" that has to do with ethics.

 

I said “don’t care”, not “don’t know”.

Please, allow me to rephrase: notwithstanding what that body of normative knowledge that we consider Ethics presupposes to be, notwithstanding the assumptions it makes, its internal laws, what it exponents hold it to be, notwithstanding this all, Ethics has a palpable result on human action, that is, it affects people’s preferences. Thus, although the concept of Free Will is essential to Formal Ethics, if Free Will didn’t really exist but still people believed that it did, thus stuck to ethics, than this body of knowledge although false prima facie, would still exert its practical influence, we might say that, in such cases when an entity’s practical value can be divorced form its formal existence, that the entity has no formal meaning at all, and is meaningful only in its practical consequences.

 

On the other hand, the value of math can’t be said to be just practical above such lines, for if 2+2 stopped being equal to 4 (a scenario we can’t even imagine), than mathematics could no longer be used practically, regardless of whether people knew or not that 2+2 no longer equaled 4.

 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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Joel replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 12:34 PM

zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

First, it seems you are begging the question, assuming to begin with that normative propositions cannot be factual statements.

Secondly, even if there is a distinction, how can it be proven that the latter cannot be derived from the former?  (Also, necessary (logical) truths can be deduced without any premises.)

Thirdly, what about inductive reasoning?

Fourthly, there are, in fact, normative propositions that can (and have been) proven to be false (thus clearly falsifiable): e.g., by pointing out a self-contradiction or showing that it relies on a vacuous concept, or is inconsistent with the nature of things.

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Joel replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 12:51 PM

Azure:

I'd also have thought Bayes's theorem would have put an end to the debates over whether the world is "deterministic" or not, but what can you do...

P(A|B) * P(B) = P(B|A) * P(A)

There it is.  That is what put an end to the debates over determinism?

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