# The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics

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Now, how the hell you can earn a PhD in economics, teach the subject for many years, and become the head of a major department, and not know even the century of Adam Smith, who was probably the most influential economist in history -- well, maybe someone can explain this, but I can't.

You are probably lucky you never audited one of his courses. George (faux quote): I don't want to embarass you teacher; I only want that you should know the truth.

--Brant

actually quoted from one of my Dad's schoolmates circa early or mid-1920s

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Both of these discussions are quite long and involved, and if I ever get the time to type out representative passages that illustrate the major arguments, I may start a separate thread on this subject. Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who hate science.

If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s -- if, for example, light of certain wave-lengths, passing through the lens of a camera, produces a certain chemical change (which we call the taking of a photograph of Mount Everest) upon a photographic film -- the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is. It could only act differently, if it were different. As long therefore as it is a, and stands related under conditions c to a subject that is s, no other effect than x can be produced; and to say that the same thing acting on the same thing under the same conditions may yet produce a different effect, is to say that a thing need not be what it is. But this is in flat conflict with the Law of Identity. A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be....

Notice this passage, "If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s ". Here is single cause => single effect in action. This type of thinking is not scientific anymore, although at one time it was.

Nope, you got it wrong. Joseph is merely using a simple model to illustrate a point. His book contains many chapters on causation -- e.g., "On Non-Reciprocating Casual Relations" -- nearly 200 pages in all.

You really should stop with the simplistic claims about certain philosophical views not being "scientific" any more. I've heard enough bogus claims about "science" recently to last a lifetime, all from people who don't know zilch about what philosophers have actually said. If you think a theory is wrong, then explain why it is wrong.

According to DF, the approach outlined by Joseph was concocted by Rand. According to you, it is as old as the hills and outdated. So why don't you two argue among yourselves and leave me out of it.

Ghs

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[To Dragonfly]:

What arguments? You don't give arguments. You claim that physicists have proven such and such, and then you dismiss skeptics as uninformed.

Feel free to check it out yourself if you "don't believe" what DF wrote about the results of experiments in QM.

But you haven't argued for or proven a damned thing. The only "arguments" you have given about physics are assertions based on things you claim to know.

The onus probandi is on you, George. Please list those 'arguments about physics' and then provide evidence of them being "assertions" based on mere claim of knowledge.

We all know how to Google.

Happy Googling if you think you can refute what DF wrote about QM. So if you find any famous physicist disproving what DF said, please post it here.

Your attacks on DF portray you as downright naive regarding your idea of reality. Like someone who kicks a ball, the ball rolls, and who says: "Here we have a clear cause and effect-relationship".

Here are the words of a world-famous physicist, Richard Feynman: "The behavior of things on a small scale is so fantastic, it's so wonderfully different, so marvelously different than anything that behaves on a large scale."

Do you think anything in DF's posts contradicts what Feynman said here?

Edited by Xray
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Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who hate science.

I'll rephrase:

"Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who [have never caught up to the realization that Joseph's argument rules out (effective) volition]."

-

I don't give a damn if [DF] is Stephen Hawking. His grasp of the philosophy of science, and of philosophy generally, is pathetic. He has no business lecturing O'ist types, even Randroids, on such matters, given his own ignorance.

He's a better physicist than Stephen Hawking. And unlike O'ist types, he grasps that the O'ist formulation of causality as a corollary of identity is vacuous. It tells you not one damned thing of substance beyond that the impossible isn't possible. (I.e., entities can't do what they can't do, whatever that is.) Big deal.

-

I am still waiting for DF to give a coherent explanation of what he means by an infinite universe in concrete terms.

He gave it. Perhaps you missed the post. It wasn't long.

Ellen

Where?

-

On this forum I have myself never brought up the fact that I'm a physicist. At most I'll have confirmed it when asked about. [....] It has been mentioned by other people, like Ellen, who know me from longer ago, when I still posted in my own name on other forums.

DF, sorry. I didn't notice that you'd never on this list said anything about being a physicist, else I wouldn't have mentioned it.

But now that we have that settled......

Maybe next week we can actually discuss the Aspect experiments.

Ellen

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"Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who [have never caught up to the realization that Joseph's argument rules out (effective) volition]."

Not sure about that. I suspect you could work it sufficiently vaguely so it doesn't. But all this does is confirm your wider point below: it's so vacuous that it doesn't rule out much at all.

And unlike O'ist types, he grasps that the O'ist formulation of causality as a corollary of identity is vacuous. It tells you not one damned thing of substance beyond that the impossible isn't possible. (I.e., entities can't do what they can't do, whatever that is.) Big deal.

What Ellen said.

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I don't give a damn if [DF] is Stephen Hawking. His grasp of the philosophy of science, and of philosophy generally, is pathetic. He has no business lecturing O'ist types, even Randroids, on such matters, given his own ignorance.

He's a better physicist than Stephen Hawking. And unlike O'ist types, he grasps that the O'ist formulation of causality as a corollary of identity is vacuous. It tells you not one damned thing of substance beyond that the impossible isn't possible. (I.e., entities can't do what they can't do, whatever that is.) Big deal.

So DF is a better physicist than Stephen Hawking? Wow! Now I have absolutely no doubt about your judgment in these matters!

I was going to ask if DF has published any papers, so I could also bask in the glow of his towering intelligence, but I wouldn't want to violate his privacy, since this might bring about retaliation by O'ist hooligans. Perhaps we could simplify matters if I promise to believe anything DF says from now on.

Oh, I hate to mention this, but your interpretation of Joseph is truly fucked up. Stick with physics. Philosophy is way out of your league. It actually requires that you make sense. Too bad you didn't marry a philosopher....

Ghs

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Sorry Ellen, he did not reduce his statement to any coherent statement about concretes. He simply asks why it should be the case that his assertion (incoherent in itself- that no matter how big the universe is, it is even bigger than it is) should not be true, asking for the proof of a negative.

You would need to clarify to me what you mean by infinitely big universe. I would say that an infinitely big universe would be one in which no ratio between it as a whole and its parts exists.

Why should such a ratio exist? If the universe would be finite, there would be a number M for which the distance between any two objects in the universe is always < M. But there is no a priori reason that there couldn't be an object with a distance to a given object that is > M and that argument can be repeated ad infinitum, meaning that there doesn't have to be a natural number M with that property. In such a universe there would be a bijection between the number of objects in the universe and the natural numbers. It may be a frustrating idea that you'll never finish counting them, but it is not contradictory.

For someone who argues that philosophy has nothing to say about physics, it is quite odd that the abstract potential infinity of real numbers should be taken as evidence for the nature of actual physical bodies. Sounds like arbitrary Pythagorean magic to me.

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So now you're making physical threats. You're literally threatening to come steal from me. I think that should get you kicked off this board.

I explain why I don’t call you a “chronic liar” or otherwise engage in actionable libel, and you interpret it as a physical threat? Your reading comprehension skills are so sorely lacking, I may as well type jibber jibber jibber. Jibber jibber. Jibber.

Ah! Thanks guys. My ego does require some existential stoking and stroking.

I also think you’re swell.

He's a better physicist than Stephen Hawking.

By “better” you can’t possibly mean more distinguished, so…please expand. Have we unknowingly been just casually interacting with Feynman Recidivus?

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For someone who argues that philosophy has nothing to say about physics, it is quite odd that the abstract potential infinity of real numbers should be taken as evidence for the nature of actual physical bodies. Sounds like arbitrary Pythagorean magic to me.

What the man is saying is that finitude of the Cosmos is not an apriori given or certainty. No logical contradiction would follow if the Cosmos were infinite in extent or if its expansion were not bounded by any physical law. So, logically, the Cosmos could be finite or it could be unbounded. No contradiction follows from either of these alternatives.

On the other hand we have no empirical evidence that the Cosmos is infinite.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Your attacks on DF portray you as downright naive regarding your idea of reality. Like someone who kicks a ball, the ball rolls, and who says: "Here we have a clear cause and effect-relationship".

I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp. His view of cause and effect is downright naive. Maybe reading some posts by DF will set him straight.

With your sophisticated understanding of causation, maybe you can give me some advice. My kitchen is a mess, and my downright naive view of reality leads me to believe that I am actually going to have to take some action to clean it up. Is there some QM magical spell I can utter so the kitchen will instantly clean itself, with no cause? I ask this because you know so much more about physics than I do.

Ghs

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I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp. His view of cause and effect is downright naive.

Not Herbert, the one who voted for Ron Paul! You kicked him? You vile bully.

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"Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who [have never caught up to the realization that Joseph's argument rules out (effective) volition]."

Not sure about that. I suspect you could work it sufficiently vaguely so it doesn't. But all this does is confirm your wider point below: it's so vacuous that it doesn't rule out much at all.

I guess that an elephant gives birth to another elephant but not to a tiger, a snake, a boulder, a piano, or a limerick, isn't "much at all."

And unlike O'ist types, he grasps that the O'ist formulation of causality as a corollary of identity is vacuous. It tells you not one damned thing of substance beyond that the impossible isn't possible. (I.e., entities can't do what they can't do, whatever that is.) Big deal.

What Ellen said.

It's only vacuous to somebody who can't give an example.

Edited by Merlin Jetton
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I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp. His view of cause and effect is downright naive.

Not Herbert, the one who voted for Ron Paul! You kicked him? You vile bully.

No, it wasn't Herbert. He unfortunately died nearly two years ago, the victim of a naive view of cause and effect known as a heart attack. Herbert has moved on to the subatomic realm where he has no simultaneous momentum and position, where he sometimes acts like a wave and sometimes like a particle, and where he is able to romp at random with no causal restraints.

I was referring to another Bichon, Jazz, whom I got a few months after Herbert died. He lives in the naive, illusory world that I inhabit. In short, if he takes a dump on the floor, I have to clean it up. The fact that his shit is mostly empty space doesn't make the job any more pleasant.

Btw, I hope everyone understands that I was joking about kicking my dog.

Ghs

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For someone who argues that philosophy has nothing to say about physics, it is quite odd that the abstract potential infinity of real numbers should be taken as evidence for the nature of actual physical bodies. Sounds like arbitrary Pythagorean magic to me.

What the man is saying is that finitude of the Cosmos is not an apriori given or certainty. No logical contradiction would follow if the Cosmos were infinite in extent or if its expansion were not bounded by any physical law. So, logically, the Cosmos could be finite or it could be unbounded. No contradiction follows from either of these alternatives.

On the other hand we have no empirical evidence that the Cosmos is infinite.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Assertions that the cosmos is actually infinite are incoherent. Neither are they compatible with any respectable and non-arbitrary model of the universe. If DF wants to say that the universe is of actually infinite size, let him say it, and let him be specific as to what he means by actually infinite. I do not accept subjective observer-related assertions that "you could always go further" as the same as asserting actual infinity.

Actual infinity would mean that the universe had no actual size, because if it did, it would have to be even bigger than it actually is.

Edited by Ted Keer
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For someone who argues that philosophy has nothing to say about physics, it is quite odd that the abstract potential infinity of real numbers should be taken as evidence for the nature of actual physical bodies. Sounds like arbitrary Pythagorean magic to me.

What the man is saying is that finitude of the Cosmos is not an apriori given or certainty. No logical contradiction would follow if the Cosmos were infinite in extent or if its expansion were not bounded by any physical law. So, logically, the Cosmos could be finite or it could be unbounded. No contradiction follows from either of these alternatives.

On the other hand we have no empirical evidence that the Cosmos is infinite.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Assertions that the cosmos is actually infinite are incoherent.

First of all, I don't think that DF or anyone else here argued that the cosmos is infinite, only that it might be infinite. Whether the cosmos is finite or infinite is simply not known. I'm not sure which of the below two position you are argueing:

1) That an infinite universe is incoherent and, therefore, presumably impossible.

2) That it is incoherent to argue that the universe is infinite, since there is no way to know this.

If you're argueing position #1, then I don't understand the basis of your argument. There's nothing incoherent about an infinite universe.

Neither are they compatible with any respectable and non-arbitrary model of the universe.

Where did you get this idea? According to the BBT, the universe is hundreds of billions of light years in size but not infinite, since the expansion started about 14 billion years ago at a finite speed, so its extension cannot be infinite. But the BBT is not the only respectable and non-arbitrary model of the universe. The existing BBT model has its own problems and may very well eventually be replaced with another model.

If DF wants to say that the universe is of actually infinite size, let him say it, and let him be specific as to what he means by actually infinite. I do not accept subjective observer-related assertions that "you could always go further" as the same as asserting actual infinity.

DF never said that the universe is infinite, only that this has not been established one way or the other. The argument that "you could always go further" has nothing to do with any reasonable argument as to the possibility that the universe might be infinite.

Actual infinity would mean that the universe had no actual size, because if it did, it would have to be even bigger than it actually is.

That's true, but so what? If the universe is infinite, then it does not have a finite size by definition. Why is this a problem?

Martin

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"Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who [have never caught up to the realization that Joseph's argument rules out (effective) volition]."

Not sure about that. I suspect you could work it sufficiently vaguely so it doesn't. But all this does is confirm your wider point below: it's so vacuous that it doesn't rule out much at all.

And unlike O'ist types, he grasps that the O'ist formulation of causality as a corollary of identity is vacuous. It tells you not one damned thing of substance beyond that the impossible isn't possible. (I.e., entities can't do what they can't do, whatever that is.) Big deal.

What Ellen said.

What Ellen said is bunk.

The identity theory of causation (as I call it) makes no claims about particular causes and particular effects; that is not its purpose. Rather, it pinpoints the aspect of necessity in causal relationships. Contra Ellen's silly claim, it doesn't merely say that the impossible isn't possible. It links what an entity can and cannot do its nature, i.e., to its attributes.

This approach explains a hell of a lot more about why we observe causal regularities than does the shallow Humean theory that some on OL have defended. These people have convinced themselves that they are embracing an up-to-date "scientific" view of causation, whereas they have really accepted a theory that goes back centuries before Hume to some of the nominalists of the later Middle Ages.

Indeed, the same view of causation was defended even earlier, prior to the time of Thomas Aquinas (who criticized it), by those Christian "occasionalists" who wished to strengthen the notion of God's omnipotence by denying natural causation. Occasionalism received its most famous formulation in the late 17th century by the French Cartesian and theologian Nicolas Malebranche, according to whom God is the only causal agent.

Thus was the denial of (natural) causation pressed into the service of Christianity. It was largely thanks to the proponents of science, who affirmed casual necessity in nature, that this theological doctrine was overthrown.

I doubt if any of the self-proclaimed champions of physics on OL have a clue that their supposedly scientific view of causation was originally a theological theory, one designed to prove that God can do anything he wants without violating nonexistent causal laws. The ignorance on OL on this topic has reached epidemic proportions. Par for the course.

Ghs

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I just kicked my dog and he let out a yelp. His view of cause and effect is downright naive.

Uh oh...

Let's put it this way.

I wouldn't want to be the dog of anyone around here.

Well at least I know I'm covered.

Btw, I hope everyone understands that I was joking about kicking my dog.

Whew! That was a close one!

btw - George, you are doing a great job showing why abstraction (a philosophical issue) needs to stay connected to reality if abstraction is to be a tool to help man transform reality or even perform scientific experiments.

Michael

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Ah! Thanks guys. My ego does require some existential stoking and stroking.

Brant,

Let me be one to stroke, too. I think you rock.

purrr

Achilles has left his tent

Er...

Go easy on the purring.

That could get me in the dog-house with Kat.

Michael

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There is no distinction between arguing that nonsense is true or that it might be true.

Does the universe have an actual size, or doesn't it? What is that actual size? Merely saying that it is infinite is undefined - meaningless. Apply some definite meaning to the term. Say that the Universe is "this" big. Well, no, it cannot only be that big and no bigger - if it is infinite, then it is as big as it is - and bigger. It is a contradiction. DF skirted the issue by making it a matter of potential measurement.

Another problematic argument is that an infinite universe is logically possible, that one can "imagine" an infinite universe. That is invalid on two accounts. The notion of logical possibility is arbitrary and is based not on what one knows can happen, but on what one does not know cannot happen. In the game of logical possibility, ignorance is an advantage. And one cannot actually imagine an infinite universe. One has to stop imagining at some point. No one has ever imagined an infinite universe

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There is no distinction between arguing that nonsense is true or that it might be true.

Well, there is a distinction, but not a very important one. The problem is that you haven't demonstrated that there is anything nonsensical about an infinite universe. Therefore, saying that the universe might be infinite is not arguing nonsense.

Does the universe have an actual size, or doesn't it? What is that actual size?

Very good questions, for which noone has the answers. If the universe is finite, it has an actual size, although its vastness is such that estimates of its size might not be very accurate. If the universe is infinite, then it's infinite, in which case it does not have a definite size; it just goes on forever.

Merely saying that it is infinite is undefined - meaningless.

You keep saying this, but you've yet to give a reason. There's nothing meaningless or undefined about an infinite universe. It's true that you can't define the size of an infinite universe. But this doesn't make the concept of an infinite universe meaningless.

Apply some definite meaning to the term. Say that the Universe is "this" big.

Saying that the universe is any particular size already presupposes that it is finite. If it is infinite, you cannot say that it is any particular size, because it's not.

Well, no, it cannot only be that big and no bigger - if it is infinite, then it is as big as it is - and bigger. It is a contradiction. DF skirted the issue by making it a matter of potential measurement.

If it is infinite, it just goes on forever without end. There is no logical contradiction in this. Whether the universe is or is not infinite is an empirical matter for scientific investigation. This possibility cannot be discounted apriori by logic, because such a state of existence entails no logical contradiction.

Another problematic argument is that an infinite universe is logically possible, that one can "imagine" an infinite universe. That is invalid on two accounts. The notion of logical possibility is arbitrary and is based not on what one knows can happen, but on what one does not know cannot happen. In the game of logical possibility, ignorance is an advantage. And one cannot actually imagine an infinite universe. One has to stop imagining at some point. No one has ever imagined an infinite universe

I have no trouble imagining an infinite universe. This is not about logical possibility, since this is an empirical question, not a logical one.

Martin

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"Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who [have never caught up to the realization that Joseph's argument rules out (effective) volition]."

Not sure about that. I suspect you could work it sufficiently vaguely so it doesn't. But all this does is confirm your wider point below: it's so vacuous that it doesn't rule out much at all.

And unlike O'ist types, he grasps that the O'ist formulation of causality as a corollary of identity is vacuous. It tells you not one damned thing of substance beyond that the impossible isn't possible. (I.e., entities can't do what they can't do, whatever that is.) Big deal.

What Ellen said.

What Ellen said is bunk.

The identity theory of causation (as I call it) makes no claims about particular causes and particular effects; that is not its purpose. Rather, it pinpoints the aspect of necessity in causal relationships. Contra Ellen's silly claim, it doesn't merely say that the impossible isn't possible. It links what an entity can and cannot do its nature, i.e., to its attributes.

This approach explains a hell of a lot more about why we observe causal regularities than does the shallow Humean theory that some on OL have defended. These people have convinced themselves that they are embracing an up-to-date "scientific" view of causation, whereas they have really accepted a theory that goes back centuries before Hume to some of the nominalists of the later Middle Ages.

Indeed, the same view of causation was defended even earlier, prior to the time of Thomas Aquinas (who criticized it), by those Christian "occasionalists" who wished to strengthen the notion of God's omnipotence by denying natural causation. Occasionalism received its most famous formulation in the late 17th century by the French Cartesian and theologian Nicolas Malebranche, according to whom God is the only causal agent.

Thus was the denial of (natural) causation pressed into the service of Christianity. It was largely thanks to the proponents of science, who affirmed casual necessity in nature, that this theological doctrine was overthrown.

I doubt if any of the self-proclaimed champions of physics on OL have a clue that their supposedly scientific view of causation was originally a theological theory, one designed to prove that God can do anything he wants without violating nonexistent causal laws. The ignorance on OL on this topic has reached epidemic proportions. Par for the course.

Ghs

Damn! That is a terrific post!

Just when you feel like giving up hope that there are any intelligent Objectivists out there, you see a post like this...

What?? Ghs is not an Objectivist?

Oh shit...

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Both of these discussions are quite long and involved, and if I ever get the time to type out representative passages that illustrate the major arguments, I may start a separate thread on this subject. Meanwhile, here is a brief passage by Joseph (p. 408) that indicates that we are talking about the same approach defended by Rand, NB, and other ignorant Objectivists who hate science.

If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s -- if, for example, light of certain wave-lengths, passing through the lens of a camera, produces a certain chemical change (which we call the taking of a photograph of Mount Everest) upon a photographic film -- the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is. It could only act differently, if it were different. As long therefore as it is a, and stands related under conditions c to a subject that is s, no other effect than x can be produced; and to say that the same thing acting on the same thing under the same conditions may yet produce a different effect, is to say that a thing need not be what it is. But this is in flat conflict with the Law of Identity. A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be....

Notice this passage, "If a thing a under conditions c produces a change x in a subject s ". Here is single cause => single effect in action. This type of thinking is not scientific anymore, although at one time it was.

I responded to this post earlier, but I want to give an illustrative quotation.

As I noted previously, Brand Blanshard defends the same identity theory of causation as H.W.B. Joseph; he even quotes the same passage by Joseph that I quoted, along with a few more. So did Blanshard subscribe to the simplistic and outdated view of causation that GS mentions? Well, here is just one passage (from The Nature of Thought, II, 456-57) where Blanshard discusses this issue. Judge for yourself.

The second point is more important, namely that relevance has degrees. It is a mistake exposed long ago to imagine that what the inductive methods approve as the cause is the only relevant circumstance, or that the factors "eliminated" are revealed as irrelevant absolutely. In scientific inquiry, the cause usually means the efficient or precipitating cause. But in no case is this the only condition of the result. Indeed conditions that are eliminated by inductive canons [blanshard is thinking of J.S. Mill's famous discussion] may be as essential to the result as those selected. Take the first method on [Mill's] list, which in this respect is typical, the method of agreement. It would reject as irrelevant any circumstance that is not present with the result uniformly. A series of typhoid cases is examined; the water supply is declared to be the only constant factor; it is therefore pronounced guilty, and the variable supplies of milk and what-not are exonerated. But if a factor may be accounted relevant when it affects the result, then, judged as a measure of relevance, this method will not stand a moment's examination. There are two types of factor it eliminates. It eliminates, first, factors which, though present throughout the series, are also present constantly outside it, such as fixed conditions of climate, gravitational pull, the existence of the sun and fixed stars, the solidity of the earth's surface. Are these irrelevant? Obviously Yes, if you rule out, to begin with, everything but the efficient or precipitating cause. But just as obviously No, if you attach to "relevant" what in a discussion like this is the only appropriate meaning, namely affecting the result. For it is at least as certain that the non-existence of the sun and gravitation would have made a difference to the result as would the absence of a particular water system. If so, then in the required sense these factors are plainly relevant. Secondly, the method eliminates all factors that are not present throughout the series. Patient A has just recovered from diphtheria, B has tuberculosis, and C is a centenarian but because these conditions do not repeat themselves in all cases, they are pronounced [by Mill] to be in no case relevant to the result. Now whatever "logic" may tell us, we know better than that. To typhoid fever as it appears in any actual patient, there is no one factor that is relevant to the exclusion of all else; we know perfectly well that his general state of health, his age, even his disposition, his philosophy, and his religion, may exercise their influence, each in its appropriate and perhaps minor degree, upon the complexion of his disease. To say that relevance must be present absolutely and in perfection or else in zero quantity, that the presence of a certain bacillus is everything, and all else shall count as nothing, is merely arbitrary. Innumerable conditions contribute in innumerable degrees.

It is curious, is it not, that Blanshard can hold the supposedly vacuous and tautological view of causation defended by Joseph and yet articulate anything but a simplistic view of particular causes and effects. This is even more curious when you learn that the latter is dependent on, and arises from, the former.

If you were curious why I get so sharp and impatient with the philosophic ignoramuses on OL who make grandiose pronouncements without having read any of this material, now you know why.

Ghs

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Claiming that the universe is finite or infinite is a matter of faith or opinion, not reality-based logic.

Until we can observe it, one way or the other, we can only speculate.

And even observing it through our current human limitations of five senses poses all kinds of problems.

What does an infinite universe look like? Good question. How can you see the end where there is no end?

What does a finite universe look like? Good question, too. How can you see a boundary when there is no separation from anything?

Once someone manages to observe the entire universe in all its glory, I'm sure he or she will share the observation and the method.

Michael

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Damn! That is a terrific post!

Just when you feel like giving up hope that there are any intelligent Objectivists out there, you see a post like this...

What?? Ghs is not an Objectivist?

Oh shit...

Thanks.

I am a contextual Objectivist. In this context, I am a true-blue Objectivist.

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I guess that an elephant gives birth to another elephant but not to a tiger, a snake, a boulder, a piano, or a limerick, isn't "much at all."

LOL! I guess an amoeba can never become an Einstein then - only another amoeba! Are you really going to go there Merlin?

Further that doesn't violate the Law of Identity at all. Because if an elephant was ever to give birth to a boulder or a piano, the LOI would simply reassure us that it was in its nature to do so! - just as it was in the amoeba's nature to become an Einstein.

Ain't the LOI grand.

Edited by Daniel Barnes

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