• Relativist
    829
    The "success of science" refers to the success of theory in making predictions. This constitutes evidence (not analytic proof) for the theories being at least approximately true.

    You say you are agnostic to all things that are unproven. Compare your position to mine: my position is that if something isn't proven, then we should be open to the possibility it is false. I am agnostic to the degree that we can't have absolute certainty about much of anything. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that I live my life based on believing that a variety of things are (probably) true. For example, I expect my keyboard to correctly enter the letters I am typing, and that the contents of my typing will appear in my reply to you. I would regard as "extreme skepticism" the attitude that one could have no degree of trust in anything that is unproven (the sun might not rise tomorrow; the world external to my mind actually might not exist,...). Are you indeed extreme in that sense, or are you closer to my position - such that you acknowledge uncertainty, but accept that we can have varying degrees of confidence about many aspects of the world?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    Especially the last one. I imagine the idea became popular because it proved usefulPattern-chaser
    What does it mean to be useful if it doesn't carry some degree of accuracy?
  • I like sushi
    1.3k


    Does every effect have a cause, or is it possible for causeless effects to happen?

    This question is irrelevant. If there is an ‘effect’ that isn’t ‘caused’ then it isn’t an ‘effect’ - that is the semantic problem. Putting that aside what does it matter for how are we meant to know whether or not the ‘cause’ is hidden or merely absent? In other words if we cannot comprehend such things then what place to we have to talk of them? And if we’re not talking of them here then what are we doing other than willingly chasing our own tails under the belief that our own arse smells delightful?

    I’ve never been overly keen on sniffing my own farts :D
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    I like sushi
    746
    ↪Pattern-chaser


    Does every effect have a cause, or is it possible for causeless effects to happen?


    This question is irrelevant. If there is an ‘effect’ that isn’t ‘caused’ then it isn’t an ‘effect’ -
    I like sushi

    Nicely expressed.

    It is like calling the universe "The creation" and then arguing that there must be a creator.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    You say you are agnostic to all things that are unproven. Compare your position to mine: my position is that if something isn't proven, then we should be open to the possibility it is false.Relativist

    Yes, that's half of a description of agnosticism, isn't it? Open to the possibility it's TRUE; open to the possibility it's FALSE.

    If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar. — Richard P. Feynman

    -------------------------------------------------------

    I would regard as "extreme skepticism" the attitude that one could have no degree of trust in anything that is unproven (the sun might not rise tomorrow; the world external to my mind actually might not exist,...). Are you indeed extreme in that sense, or are you closer to my position - such that you acknowledge uncertainty, but accept that we can have varying degrees of confidence about many aspects of the world?Relativist

    No degree of trust? No, I wouldn't go that far. I don't accept that we "can have" "varying degrees of confidence", but that's because the phraseology is not what I would've chosen. :wink: To say that we assume "varying degrees of confidence" is to describe what we actually do, in RL. Because we have no choice, in practice. But those assumptions are unjustified; they're just guesses, nothing more. But most of the time, our guesses work, so we use them. :up:

    But there's more to my stance than this. Take the possibility that Objective Reality bears little or no resemblance to the apparent world our senses show to us. Most people would say "Oh yes, but the chance of that being so is infinitesimally small." And there lies my problem. It is so very, very unknown that we have no way to assign a probability value to it. There is no valid part of the science of statistics that would allow us to assign a probability value to it. We know that all probabilities must lie between 0 and 1. But we cannot progress beyond that. You could tell us what you believe, of course, but there is no science or logic that would allow you - justifiably - to place a numerical value on that probability. When I realised that, it was quite a discovery for me. Maybe it's obvious to others, but I was pretty stunned when I found out.

    So I acknowledge the possibility of anything that's even slightly credible, until evidence shows me otherwise.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    What does it mean to be useful if it doesn't carry some degree of accuracy?Harry Hindu

    I can't quite see how it could/would have been useful if it did not offer some degree of accuracy, can you?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    This question is irrelevant. If there is an ‘effect’ that isn’t ‘caused’ then it isn’t an ‘effect’ - that is the semantic problem.I like sushi

    Cause and effect are roles occupied by events, so you're right, of course. But cause and effect are a pair that go together in our vocabulary, even our everyday vocabulary, so "causeless effect" is probably the easiest way to communicate what is meant.

    if we cannot comprehend such things then what place to we have to talk of them?I like sushi

    Can you point me to any topic of philosophical discussion where we "comprehend" the issues? :wink: OK, comprehension is a matter of degree, but I think the reason we discuss such things is to enhance (or create) our comprehension, yes? So we will necessarily be discussing things we don't properly understand. That's our lot in life, I think.
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    Fair dos! :) The contradictory nature of language and communication at least gives us something in a negative sense.

    It just reminds me of what Kant talked of in his rare use of analogy about ships sailing the ocean in search of a continent they may not actually exist. The problem you pose is more of a linguistic one as far as I can see. Once dealt with in linguistic comprehension then it may be useful to apply it further ... or maybe not.

    I guess we’ve all got our own little ridiculous niches to niche into. We can but hope they turn out not to be completely ridiculous.
  • Relativist
    829
    No degree of trust? No, I wouldn't go that far. I don't accept that we "can have" "varying degrees of confidence", but that's because the phraseology is not what I would've chosen. :wink: To say that we assume "varying degrees of confidence" is to describe what we actually do, in RL. Because we have no choice, in practice. But those assumptions are unjustified; they're just guesses, nothing more. But most of the time, our guesses work, so we use them. :up:Pattern-chaser
    I suggest that "to believe" means to accept or treat something as true as a psychological attitude, an attitude that influences our future behavior (including our mental behavior). As you note, we have no choice but to make guesses (i.e. form beliefs in this psychological sense), so why not make the best guesses possible?
  • Richard B
    32
    How to verify a causeless effect, consider the following:

    1. Some large stone is at rest, and at the very same time one person on one side of the stone pushes the stone with the same force in the direction of another person who at the same time pushes the stone in their direction with the same force. The stone does not move. Is this an example of a cause with no effect?

    Ok, let us reverse “the movie” and watch the stone move the two people while at rest. Would this be a “causeless effect” or do we want to say the rock caused the people to move?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    Then wouldnt you say that the usefulness of the idea of causation is evidence that the idea is accurate?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    As you note, we have no choice but to make guesses (i.e. form beliefs in this psychological sense), so why not make the best guesses possible?Relativist

    Why not indeed? :up: :smile:
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Then wouldnt you say that the usefulness of the idea of causation is evidence that the idea is accurate?Harry Hindu

    No, I'd say it's evidence that the concept in question is useful. Use includes some degree of accuracy, of course, but evidence for causation? I suppose it is evidence, but it's not very strong evidence; in scientific terms, not very strong at all. If you - and maybe only you, in all the universe - believe something to be true, then your belief constitutes evidence, but that would be the weakest evidence I could imagine, and it wouldn't be what a scientist would find to be acceptable/useful. :chin:
  • Relativist
    829
    And that leads us into epistemology, and the justification of unproven/unprovable "beliefs." Regarding your opening question: no, we can prove causation, but is it more reasonable to believe everything has a cause or to not believe it?
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    but it isnt just me. One bit of evidence by itself isnt much, but an amalgam of evidence can be considered proof. Again I ask you, what would proof of causation look like other than observing it in action and participating in it everyday at all times, like we do now?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    an amalgam of evidence can be considered proofHarry Hindu

    No. Only conclusive evidence constitutes proof. Quantity (of evidence) does not equal 'conclusive', as you must know well.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    is it more reasonable to believe everything has a cause or to not believe it?Relativist

    Given that I cannot place a number on the probability of it being correct, or not being correct, my answer to your question is: I don't know. No, I really don't know. Like everyone else, I will continue to use unjustified guesswork in my everyday life. But in a philosophy forum, a little more consideration seems appropriate.
  • Relativist
    829
    Like everyone else, I will continue to use unjustified guesswork in my everyday life.Pattern-chaser
    I'm referring to every day life. Despite there being guesswork to our choices, we still endeavor to to make the best possible guesses. Imagine if you were to refrain from making your everyday choices simply because you could neither prove it optimal, nor compute the probability of your preferred outcome. That is not tenable.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    Relativist
    556

    Like everyone else, I will continue to use unjustified guesswork in my everyday life. — Pattern-chaser

    I'm referring to every day life. Despite there being guesswork to our choices, we still endeavor to to make the best possible guesses. Imagine if you were to refrain from making your everyday choices simply because you could neither prove it optimal, nor compute the probability of your preferred outcome. That is not tenable.
    Relativist

    Everyone should make the best guesses or "preferences" possible...especially in what you refer to as "every day life."

    But even in grander schemes...that is a good idea.

    Obviously, I prefer that people call their guesses and preferences...guesses and/or preferences.

    Some people say, "I 'believe in' democracy."

    I just think it would be better to state that thought in a variation of "preference." "I prefer to live in country where democracy and freedom prevail...rather than in one where dictatorship is boss" just sounds better to me.

    "I 'believe' aliens from other planets live among us" does not sound as good to my ear as, "It is my guess that aliens from other planets live among us"...or "it is my opinion (estimate) that..."
  • Harry Hindu
    2.2k
    No. Only conclusive evidence constitutes proof. Quantity (of evidence) does not equal 'conclusive', as you must know well.Pattern-chaser
    Why isnt a quantity of evidence not equal to conclusive evidence? You keep avoiding the question. What would proof of causation look like if it doesnt look like what is happening right here right now - us communicating. What is communication if not a causal process? Can you reply to a post before I post it and before you read it? Is not your reply the effect of my post and you reading it?
  • Relativist
    829
    "I 'believe' aliens from other planets live among us" does not sound as good to my ear as, "It is my guess that aliens from other planets live among us"...or "it is my opinion (estimate) that..."Frank Apisa
    Fine- call them opinions. There are still 2 important considerations that need consideration; how strongly you hold this opinion (which is a psychological state), and how strongly supported is your opinion (ideally, this entails an attempt to be objective). It seems more reasonable to have strong opinions when the support is stronger.

    What I'm trying to get at is that some opinions are "better" than others - i.e. it is more reasonable to hold them. Further, it is more reasonable and rational (and more productive) to strive to hold opinions that are well supported.
  • TheGreatArcanum
    186
    doesn’t it seem absurd to presuppose that an effect can exist without a cause considering the fact that all effects are conceptually contained (I..e. subsets) within their causes? to say that an effect exists without a cause is to say that, in essence, the effect is causeless and is therefore not contained within a higher set and is therefore identical to the set of all sets.
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    ...is therefore identical to the set of all sets.TheGreatArcanum


    In set theory it is claimed that the set of all sets does not exist. 'Proof’:

    1. Let S be the set of all sets, then |S| < |2^S| but 2^S is a subset of S, because every set in 2^S is in S.
    2. Therefore |S|>=|2^S|
    3. A contradiction, therefore the set of all sets does not exist.

    (using || to indicate cardinality above)

    How do you respond to this proof?
  • TheGreatArcanum
    186
    It’s only a contradiction if the ground of all being, that is, the set of all sets in nature as opposed to in the imagination, does not reside in a paradox or a contradiction. if the set of all sets in nature has ontological value, and both contains itself and does not contain itself at the same time and in the same respect, there is no contradiction. it just means that the ground of being is paradoxical, which is the case. to say that there is no first set is even more absurd than saying that there is, for to say that there is no first set is to say that all being has its origin in absolute non-existence, or the absence of essnce altogether, or rather, the non-potential for existence to be, yet existence is, so absolute non-existence cannot be, meaning that existence must be contained within that which has an essence, and that which has an essence is necessarily a set. the set of all sets must exist.
  • Devans99
    2.1k
    if the set of all sets in nature has ontological value, and both contains itself and does not contain itself at the same time and in the same respect, there is no contradiction.TheGreatArcanum

    How can a set contain contain itself and not contain itself at the same time? Surely that is a logical contradiction?
  • TheGreatArcanum
    186
    How can a set contain contain itself and not contain itself at the same time? Surely that is a logical contradiction?Devans99

    on paper, yes, but it may be the case that something existent can both contain itself and not contain itself at the same time, in which case, it would not matter if it’s a contradiction or not.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    Relativist
    559

    "I 'believe' aliens from other planets live among us" does not sound as good to my ear as, "It is my guess that aliens from other planets live among us"...or "it is my opinion (estimate) that..." — Frank Apisa

    Fine- call them opinions. There are still 2 important considerations that need consideration; how strongly you hold this opinion (which is a psychological state), and how strongly supported is your opinion (ideally, this entails an attempt to be objective). It seems more reasonable to have strong opinions when the support is stronger.

    What I'm trying to get at is that some opinions are "better" than others - i.e. it is more reasonable to hold them. Further, it is more reasonable and rational (and more productive) to strive to hold opinions that are well supported.
    Relativist

    I absolutely agree that some opinions (and some guesses or estimates) ARE better than others. But why not just call them opinions or guesses or estimates.

    The point is that when we come to the "I 'believe' (in) God" kind of thing...we actually introduce a factor of, "We must all respect the 'beliefs' of others"...AND INSTALL IT INTO LAWS we must all follow.

    The "belief" in these cases are blind guesses about the true nature of the REALITY of existence. Everyone has a right to his/her guesses...but to change the word "guess" into "belief" and afford it a status above the guess status it deserves...does a disservice to humanity.

    And, not incidentally, is often the cause of wars and killing and terrorist activities.

    So...I fight against it.

    It seems a rather lonely fight on this site, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.

    Sorry my fight causes so much consternation for so many.
  • Frank Apisa
    896
    TheGreatArcanum
    20
    doesn’t it seem absurd to presuppose that an effect can exist without a cause considering the fact that all effects are conceptually contained (I..e. subsets) within their causes? to say that an effect exists without a cause is to say that, in essence, the effect is causeless and is therefore not contained within a higher set and is therefore identical to the set of all sets.
    TheGreatArcanum

    It is not absurd to do so.

    But what is absurd is to arbitrarily describe something (like existence and the universe) as an effect...just for the purposes of supposing a cause...

    ...and then calling that "cause" GOD...

    ...and giving the GOD characteristics like being offended if I spank the monkey.

    Don't ya think?
  • I like sushi
    1.3k
    I think it’s absurd to pretend that the logic is identical to the physical. Rules have meaning only within a set. To presume a set of all sets is nothing more than a logical abstraction NOT a something manifest in physical reality.

    Anything “known” is “known” because it isn’t fully encapsulated. What is “known” is “known” due to gaps in understanding (by appropriation of any sort).
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    Despite there being guesswork to our choices, we still endeavor to to make the best possible guesses.Relativist

    Do we? Mostly we make these 'decisions' unconsciously. We give them little or no conscious attention. So we don't really know if we're trying to make our best guess or not, do we? :wink:

    Imagine if you were to refrain from making your everyday choices simply because you could neither prove it optimal, nor compute the probability of your preferred outcome. That is not tenable.Relativist

    Refrain from making choices? No. We'd be paralysed. But to bear in mind - consciously - that we're working in uncertain territory, with no proof that our beliefs have use or value? That is useful. Especially in everyday life. So often people become confused, or make mistakes, because their certainty ain't as certain, or as justified, as they believe. :wink:
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