• Devans99
    2.1k
    But should we abandon our consideration because we don't understand?Pattern-chaser

    We should continue to try to get to the bottom of things... if that's possible.

    No it isn't. I keep looking at that link when you post it, and - surprise! - it turns out to be based on unjustified assertions and nothing else. Wishful thinking is what it looks like to me.Pattern-chaser

    What unjustified assertions? I countered every counter argument on that thread.

    And that cause is...?Pattern-chaser

    The cause of the BB is the timeless first cause - the creator of the universe. I'm not 100% sure of that but thats the way it looks to me.
  • leo
    585
    Does every effect have a cause, or is it possible for causeless effects to happen?

    It seems to me that every effect has a cause, but is that simply because I was raised to think that way? A lot of our thinking assumes that effects are caused. It's difficult even to imagine otherwise. Is this because effects and causes are indivisibly and irrevocably linked, or our lack of imagination?
    Pattern-chaser

    We only say an effect has a cause because we link the effect to something else, we link an observation to something else. Now if you see something move in a peculiar way, and there is nothing you observe that you can link to this peculiar motion, you can assume that there is something you don't see linked to this motion, or you can assume that this motion is causeless.

    Scientists often work from the assumption that every effect has a cause, so to any effect that they observe causeless in apparence they will assign a theoretical invisible cause, and then model that cause by studying the effect, and then come to see their theoretical construct as referring to a real invisible thing causing the effect, so by construction we come to see every observable effect as having a cause. But you could as well see the effect as causeless, and simply model the effect itself.

    If the apparent behavior of the effect is random then it doesn't describe anything more to say that there is an underlying cause behind this random behavior, unless this underlying theoretical cause can be used to describe other effects that are not random. The effect of Brownian motion comes to mind, the random motion of small visible particles in a fluid could be seen as a causeless effect, or it could be assumed that the fluid was made of a bunch of fast-moving tiny invisible particles causing the apparent random motion of the small visible particle as a result. The hypothesis that a fluid is made of fast-moving tiny particles (molecules) was linked to other observable effects, so it was more convenient/useful to view these effects as having the same invisible cause rather than seeing them as causeless.

    On the other hand the motion of subatomic particles is modeled as partly random (in fact they are often modeled as not even having a definite trajectory), and for now there is no significant usefulness gained in assuming an underlying cause to these random motions as opposed to making them an inherent part of the behavior of these particles, so in some sense that randomness can be seen as causeless. But then fundamentally we are never explaining why the fundamental constituents of the universe behave the way they do, we are just describing how they behave, so that fundamental behavior could be seen as a causeless effect. Every effect having a cause would be akin to asking "why?" forever and always having an answer before the next "why?".

    Why does the apple fall? Because it is attracted by the Earth. Why is it attracted by the Earth? Because it is made of small things that are attracted to the small things that make up the Earth. Why do these small things attract each other? We just describe how they attract each other, and that behavior is causeless until we come up with an underlying cause which itself will then be causeless, and so on and so forth.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    In many threads on the forum it seems it would be beneficial to shift some focus from the battle of competing answers to a closer inspection of the question being debated. If a question is somehow inherently flawed, a battle of competing answers seems unlikely to be very useful.

    In this thread the question is, Are Causeless Effects Possible?

    If we start from the assumption that time runs in only one direction, this is an interesting provocative question to ask. If the nature of time is far different than what we typically assume from our everyday experience, then perhaps not.

    In other threads (so many! :smile: ) the question is, Does God Exist? This could be a useful question if our understanding of existence aligns with the nature of reality. If our understanding of existence is totally screwball, then a billion competing answers aren't likely to accomplish much.

    In many threads the hidden underlying question is, Is Human Reason Capable Of Understanding This Issue? If the answer is shown to be yes, then a philosophical inquiry may indeed be warranted. If the answer is no, or if the qualifications of reason for a particular task can not be established with some confidence, then the entire discussion may be a total waste of time.

    What may be obstructing such an examination of the questions of such threads is that, by and large generally speaking, we often aren't actually that interested in the topic itself, but are instead motivated primarily by a desire to debate. If that's the case that could explain why we so often ignore inspecting the validity of the question and dive immediately in to the competing answers contest.
  • Christoffer
    543
    Oh look! Another unjustified assertion!Pattern-chaser

    No, based on what we know in physics. Before Big Bang and within a black hole, we can only speculate since we don't have data and observations that can describe it. And even if there are possibilities outside the current understanding of physics, it is as close as we can get to the nature of causality within our laws of the universe. So how is that an unjust assertion?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    how is that an unjust assertion?Christoffer

    Not "unjust" - lacking in justice - but "unjustified": no justification offered; no evidence to back your claim; no reason for it to be true. You see?
  • Christoffer
    543
    no evidence to back your claim; no reason for it to be true. You see?Pattern-chaser

    How about most major publications in physics? Causality is a basic part of it, so what evidence do you mean doesn't exist?
  • tim wood
    3k
    Does every effect have a cause, or is it possible for causeless effects to happen?Pattern-chaser

    Cause - effect is a presupposition. It stands as a fundamental, or absolute, presupposition of a lot of thinking. As a presupposition, it is presupposed. As absolute presupposition as axiom, it is indemonstrable - unprovable. As such, asking if it's true is not a sensible question - at least not from within those areas where it is presupposed.

    As to the possibility of effects without causes, please define your terms in such a way as to make the discussion meaningful.
  • Relativist
    829
    "Does every effect have a cause, or is it possible for causeless effects to happen?"

    From a strictly semantic point of view: no. Labeling something "an effect" implies it is an effect of something, and that "something" is its cause. In other words: there is a cause if and only if there is an effect.

    Perhaps you're asking if causeless things can exist. Within the universe, it appears that every state of affairs has been caused by prior states of affairs. The state of the universe at time Tx is a direct consequence of the universe's state at time Tx-1.

    So-called "virtual particles" were brought up. They are caused. A "virtual particle" refers to interactions between a quantum field and other things (other fields, measurement devices). Quantum fields fluctuate in a deterministic manner per a Schroedinger equation (here is a good description of "virtual particles.")

    So if things within the universe are caused, what about the universe itself? The universe may be the result of physical conditions that necessarily cause universes to exist. What about these prior physical conditions? Perhaps these were caused by still earlier conditions, and this reflects a long chain of cause-effect. Does the chain end? We're left with two possibilities: either there is an infinite chain of causes, or there is an uncaused cause. Some of us argue that an infinite causal chain is impossible, while others insist it is possible. Take your pick.
  • Janus
    8.2k
    I would add: I doubt anyone else knows either.Frank Apisa

    But despite your propensity to doubt that anyone else knows you should say, in strict accordance with your own philosophy:

    I do not know. Nor do I see any way to determine if it is more likely "Yes than no" or more likely "No than yes."Frank Apisa

    since you only have a sample size of one who doesn't know to judge from.
  • Richard B
    32
    Here is an easy one. Nothing caused the mathematical constant pi. It just us.
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    So if things within the universe are caused, what about the universe itself? ... We're left with two possibilities: either there is an infinite chain of causes, or there is an uncaused cause. Some of us argue that an infinite causal chain is impossible, while others insist it is possible. Take your pick.Relativist

    Nicely put. An infinite causal chain is provably impossible. To illustrate this with an example, imagine a pool table:

    - The cue hits the white ball.
    - The white ball hits the black ball.
    - The black goes in the pocket.

    Would the black ball go in if the cue did not hit the white? No - we remove the first element in a time ordered regress and find that the rest of the regress disappears. So the first element (in time order) is key - it defines the whole of the rest of a regress. If it is absent, as in the case of an infinite regress, then the regress does not exist - temporal infinite regresses are impossible.
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    Here is an easy one. Nothing caused the mathematical constant pi. It just us.Richard B

    Agreed, concepts do not need causes. Maths was not created. It just existed as a concept waiting for a discoverer.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    Janus
    7k

    I would add: I doubt anyone else knows either. — Frank Apisa


    But despite your propensity to doubt that anyone else knows you should say, in strict accordance with your own philosophy:

    I do not know. Nor do I see any way to determine if it is more likely "Yes than no" or more likely "No than yes." — Frank Apisa


    since you only have a sample size of one who doesn't know to judge from.
    Janus

    I am being consistent.

    I DO NOT KNOW if every effect have a cause, or is it possible for causeless effects to happen\.

    There is no way to KNOW it. One would have to show that every effect, everywhere in the universe, has had a "cause" (including any possible gods) in order to KNOW that.

    Otherwise IT IS AT LEAST POSSIBLE that there could be an effect without a cause. (Which is what I said.)

    I did not say that nobody else knows...I merely said I had a doubt that anyone else does.

    Anyone with a functioning brain would have that same doubt.

    Are you saying you do not?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Maths was not created. It just existed as a concept waiting for a discoverer.Devans99

    If it existed prior to our 'discovery' of it, where, in the real-life space-time universe, was it kept? What was its location? It couldn't be in human minds, because we hadn't yet 'discovered' it.

    Where is the concept store?

    What is the concept store?


    If your 'discovery' myth is true, you must be able to answer these questions. If not, then you should stop asserting it. :up: :smile:
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    If it existed prior to our 'discovery' of it, where, in the real-life space-time universe, was it kept? What was its location? It couldn't be in human minds, because we hadn't yet 'discovered' it.Pattern-chaser

    Concepts are not material so they don't exist in spacetime. I am not sure it can even be said of concepts that they 'exist' - there is the theory of forms of cause - but I don't really buy that.

    Concepts are discovered by intelligence, but different intelligences discover the same concepts; so they have independent existence of a non-material manner.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    no evidence to back your claim; no reason for it to be true. You see?Pattern-chaser

    How about most major publications in physics? Causality is a basic part of it, so what evidence do you mean doesn't exist?Christoffer

    You claim that cause and effect exists because physics refers to it? Physics adopts cause and effect as an axiom, an unjustified assumption, honestly declared as such, because no form of proof exists for it.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    As to the possibility of effects without causes, please define your terms in such a way as to make the discussion meaningful.tim wood

    Define how? I have asked if we can consider the possibility of effects without causes. What further definition do you require?

    As to making the discussion meaningful, this seems to depend on whether cause and effect is valid, in itself, and also whether causeless effects can or do exist. And that is the purpose of this discussion: to consider whether causeless effects can/do exist.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    From a strictly semantic point of view: no. Labeling something "an effect" implies it is an effect of something, and that "something" is its cause. In other words: there is a cause if and only if there is an effect.Relativist

    Fair point. The relationship between cause and effect is assumed to exist by the definitions of the terms cause and effect. But that has little to do with whether cause and effect is valid, or whether causeless effects can/do exist.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Concepts are not material so they don't exist in spacetime. I am not sure it can even be said of concepts that they 'exist'Devans99

    Agreed. :up:

    Concepts are discovered by intelligence, but different intelligences discover the same concepts; so they have independent existence of a non-material manner.Devans99

    So, having agreed that concepts don't exist (outside of the minds that contain them), you assert once more that they exist. But now it's in a "non-material manner". I can't make much of that, but let's set it aside for now. If they exist, in whatever form, then please point to the place where they exist, the location where these concepts are stored, prior to their discovery. Yes, they are non-physical, so the place where they're stored is not a physical shelf or cupboard, but they must be stored somewhere, in some sense, if they exist. So where in the universe is the concept storage facility, and what form does this repository take?
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    I am not sure. Concepts maybe only could be have said to have existence in the mind but the 'template' for the concept is always the same. There are only 5 possible platonic solids. That is a fact that exists in our minds and it is always the same fact. I think concepts are ultimately deduced from reality so reality must mirror these concepts in some rough form.

    For example, approximate triangles exist in nature. Is that where we get the idea? But then just thinking about object shapes in general leads to the abstract idea of a triangle.

    I think maybe there exists common sense and reality and concepts are deducible from common sense and reality - so they do not have existence until they are discovered/deduced at which point they exist in our minds.
  • Christoffer
    543
    Physics adopts cause and effect as an axiom, an unjustified assumption, honestly declared as such, because no form of proof exists for it.Pattern-chaser

    Physics doesn't just accept an axiom and form theories from it, the concepts work as premises in an argument, they need to be true and are measured and calculated through math. It's a combination of real observations from large scale galaxy events, down to elemental particles found at CERN combined with theoretical physics which needs extreme scrutiny in order to be accepted at all. To dismiss this as something close to being a "belief" is seriously a naive perspective on physics.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Physics doesn't just accept an axiom and form theories from itChristoffer

    Yes, it does. That's what an axiom is: something accepted with no evidence or proof.

    axiom - A proposition formally accepted without demonstration, proof, or evidence as one of the starting-points for the systematic derivation of an organized body of knowledge. — Philosophical dictionary
  • Relativist
    829
    I addressed that in the rest of my post.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Yes, you did. :up: My point was that the word/term-related issues just muddy the water without adding anything useful.
  • Christoffer
    543
    something accepted with no evidence or proof.Pattern-chaser

    But there's lots of evidence for causality in physics.
  • tim wood
    3k
    Define how? I have asked if we can consider the possibility of effects without causes. What further definition do you require?Pattern-chaser

    Good point. My bad. In response all I've got is that what you're asking about is either defined in, or discovered and named. Cause/effect certainly seems in the class of possible things - at the least! But it's that "seems" that's the problem. You can either accept it and work with it or you can dig into it. Be advised it gets strange if you dig, and the stranger the further you dig.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    But there's lots of evidence for causality in physics.Christoffer

    Where? There are lots of cases where causality is assumed (unexamined) to be present, and so it appears. But appearance is less than scientific proof. A lot less.
  • Relativist
    829
    I brought up 2 key issues, and I can't discern your position, so I'll ask directly.

    1) Are you skeptical of causation within the universe? The progress of science depends on the assumption that everything in the universe has a causal explanation (i.e. the PSR). Although it is an unprovable assumption, the success of science provides abductive support for it.

    2) Are you (merely) contending that brute facts are metaphysically possible?

    3) Are you generally skeptical, such that you choose to believe only that which can be proven analytically? Some of your posts give me this impression, and this may explain why you (seem to) question the PSR.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I'm merely curious about a long-accepted axiom. In recent years, I've read of causeless effects, and effects that chronologically precede their causes. I wonder if the axiom is still 'safe' for use? Is it always the case that an effect has - and maybe must have - a cause?
  • pomophobe
    41
    It seems to me that every effect has a cause, but is that simply because I was raised to think that way?Pattern-chaser

    Hi, Pattern-chaser. Have you looked at this?

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sufficient-reason/

    It seems to me that we look for causes because they are useful. In practical terms they help with prediction and control. They also ameliorate our fear of the dark, metaphorically speaking. I personally see no reason to embrace the PSR as anything more than a description of what we tend to do. Maybe some things 'just happen.' Indeed, assuming that every event has a cause leads to its own problems.
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