• Posty McPostface
    2.8k
    Is the PSR manifest in 'causality'?
  • StreetlightX
    2.3k
    If you take the sufficiency rider seriously, then any answer in terms of causality needs to answer the further question: but why 'this' cause and not another? (+ further question re: individuation of causes; what makes a cause a cause and not another...).
  • Posty McPostface
    2.8k
    (+ further question re: individuation of causes; what makes a cause a cause and not another...).StreetlightX

    But, all this is nonsensical in the Many Worlds Theory. Nothing in particular is special because absolutely everything is.
  • StreetlightX
    2.3k
    Which would work if and only if causality is restricted to operating on the microphysical realm, which is contentious to say the least. It also displaces causality from being an intra-worldly phenomenon to an inter-worldly one, which is a displacement of the question. We generally ask the question to know about changes or entities in this world, and not others.
  • frank
    566
    Hume performed intellectual somersaults in an effort to satisfy the PSR in regard to induction. At what point did he reverse course?
  • SophistiCat
    348
    Posty operates under the misapprehension of the "Many Worlds" interpretation of QM as some some sort of anything-goes modal realism.

    Lewisian modal realism dissolves the PSR, in the same way that the guillotine cures a headache. You can no longer demand an explanation for why A rather than B, since you've already assumed A and B (and C and D...)

    Sorry, you'll have to direct this question to someone who knows more about Hume.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, §4
    Where he expounds on the tenuous nature of Induction whose knowledge depends on experience..."the influence of custom, that, where it is strongest, it not only covers our natural ignorance, but even conceals itself, and seems not to take place, merely because it is found in the highest degree." 4.24

    "What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience?"

    We look at the past and we assume the future will repeat its past. "From causes which appear similar we expect similar effects. This is the sum of all our experimental conclusions." 4.31

    His argument brings into question the uniformity of nature, why should we suspect that nature is ceteris paribus uniform.

    This the point that Quentin Meillassoux discusses in 'After Finitude' in his chapter "Hume's Problem page 91.
  • Janus
    5k
    What I wanted to address was the notion that a PSR of some sort is indispensable to our everyday thinking (basic principles of thought frank) and to science. I argue the opposite. Both everyday thought and science are oblivious to the PSR, unless they specifically focus on the question.SophistiCat

    I don't think it matters to the argument whether the PSR is present, as a formulated principle, in the minds of everyday people and scientists; the important point is whether they operate on the implicit understanding that everyday events and the objects of scientific study are capable of explanation. And I think the answer to that question is very obviously 'yes'.

    For me, Della Rocca's understanding of Hume's and Kant's projects is wrong-headed, if that passage you quoted is anything to go on.

    Hume denied that we can observe causation, and he claimed that the idea results merely from habit due to observing invariances; the constant conjunctions of certain events. Hume's avowed aim was to do for human nature what Newton had done for nature; and he could hardly do that unless he was convinced that human nature is susceptible of explanation!

    Kant, on the other hand, responded to Hume by claiming that the objects of experience must conform to the human experience and understanding, and that since causation is one of the central pillars of human understanding, without which, for Kant experience would be unintelligible; it hardly seems right to claim that Kant wanted to claim the PSR is false.

    What Kant did do is argue that the ambit of PSR is limited to the empirical, that it is, in other words, an epistemological principle. Kant rejected only that it can be extended to the metaphysical or ontological; and this is just what I have also been contending in this thread, that the PSR has provenance only insofar as it is an epistemological principle.

    The quote from Carroll that you gave seems to be an attempt to speak to the ontological, which is what both Kant and I say cannot be coherently done.

    When he says:

    I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.Sean M. Carroll

    He is either making an illegitimate claim or else more modestly stating the self-evident: that we cannot come up with a cause or explanation for the existence of everything, in the way that we can for the existence of particular things. In any case, I already covered this point several times:

    But I would put a caveat there, that the overall context, the Universe, reality, being, or whatever you want to call it. at the limits of both its micro and macro dimensions, obviously cannot be caused by "something else", at least not by something else within the system.Janus

    So whether the Big Bang is uncaused, self-causing, or caused by something unknowable, we are not precluded from conceiving it as an event in terms of its observed consequences. But it can only be understood in terms of its consequences, a fact which itself supports the PSR, it cannot be understood 'in itself'. So, in other words, events like the Big Bang or the decay of uranium atoms are conceivable in terms of their consequences, but not conceivable in themselves.Janus

    So in terms of Frank's 'Big Bang' example, it could be, as he says a brute fact, and will remain so for us, even though it could alternatively be a self-caused, and thus in principle, self-explanatory, event. But confirmation of the latter possibility would seem to be closed to us; we cannot tell whether it is simply a brute fact, is self-caused or even caused by some other set of unknowable conditions.Janus

    Lewisian modal realism dissolves the PSR, in the same way that the guillotine cures a headache.SophistiCat

    Not within this world.
  • frank
    566
    He isn't denying that we believe that nature is ceteris paribus uniform. He is attempting to offer a sufficient reason for that belief. He is being driven by the PSR to do that. If he denied the PSR, he would say our belief requires no explanation.
  • Janus
    5k
    We look at the past and we assume the future will repeat its past. "From causes which appear similar we expect similar effects. This is the sum of all our experimental conclusions." 4.31

    His argument brings into question the uniformity of nature, why should we suspect that nature is ceteris paribus uniform.
    Cavacava

    Yes, Hume in effect asserts that the PSR is the formulation of human assumptions and may not be true to nature itself; I.e. that it is an epistemological not an ontological principle.

    He isn't denying that we believe that nature is ceteris paribus uniform.frank

    Exactly, and it is the very fact that we believe that that shows that we are assuming the PSR, which as you note, Hume himself is also doing in his attempt to explain human nature.
  • Janus
    5k


    Give me an argument to respond to and I'll consider engaging.
  • Janus
    5k


    This raises the question whether any one cause could ever be sufficient reason for the existence of anything.
  • SophistiCat
    348
    I don't think it matters to the argument whether the PSR is present, as a formulated principle, in the minds of everyday people and scientists; the important point is whether they operate on the implicit understanding that everyday events and the objects of scientific study are capable of explanation. And I think the answer to that question is very obviously 'yes'.Janus

    As I said earlier, this modest observation that we do in fact look for explanations (in the broadest sense of the world) for things is not much of an insight. I mean, what else could we do? How else would we employ our reasoning faculties? It's a banality not worth even talking about, let alone calling it a Principle. And that's not what is usually meant by the PSR.
  • Janus
    5k


    Your response is very disappointing; you haven't even attempted to address any of the arguments I have made; apparently you would rather try to dismiss what I have said by suggesting it is banal. Cite one philosophical insight that could not possibly be characterized as a banality. The whole enterprise is commonly characterized as banal by those who have no interest in it.

    If the PSR is not taken as a Kantian type insight into the fact that objects of knowledge must conform to human reason, then how should it be taken? One alternative would be to take it in the Hegelian manner expressed as " The rational is the real".

    If you wanted to argue for the ontological provenance of the PSR, how else would you go about it other than in some variation of a Hegelian/ Spinozist or a Phenomenological/ Heideggerian mode of thought? In other words to merge the epistemological with the ontological or both with the phenomenological. Or some kind of theology perhaps?

    Outside of those kinds of approaches is there really anything interesting to talk about at all when it comes to the PSR? All that would seem to be left would be to take a 'shut up and calculate' attitude as science does; an attitude which nonetheless inevitably presupposes the PSR.

    What claims do you think are integral to the PSR? What do you mean exactly when you say that we look for explanations "in the broadest sense of the word"? Is that meant to mean that we look for explanations that are less than sufficient? If you do want to say that, then how do you think we would know when any explanation is sufficient? What exactly is it that you want to argue?
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