## Are causeless effects possible?

Next
• 213
"Randomness is the bedrock of reality."
—Anton Zeilinger
• 111
“That is true - causality is just an axiom - derived from empirically observed behaviour.

- The micro world may truly never be fully understood (due to its micro nature), so we might never get an answer to the OP question.

- Performing an experiment that demonstrates causality holds universally is obviously not possible.

- The performing of an experiment that rules out causality holding universally? I am not sure that is possible either. There is always a get out of saying some non-local cause is responsible for the supposed causeless effect (or appealing to a hidden underlying deterministic reality)

- Retrocausality does not count as causeless effects IMO. But there are possible instances of it like the famous quantum eraser”

I’ve changed my mind about you. While I still stand by my comments made to yourself during our previous engagement just in relation to the fallacious argument in that particular instance (let it be said I was never disagreeing or agreeing with you just pointing out the flaws in your argument before.) I also observe that some of your other arguments are a lot stronger and more reasoned out and I commend anyone these days who makes an effort to quantum accommodate their application of philosophy.

I completely agree that retrocausality is not the same as saying effects/events have no cause, however it does throw a wrench into being able to accurately predetermine anything.
• 1.6k
Sorry, I'd have to disagree with that. Perhaps we could say instead that "Guesswork is the bedrock of reality", at least from a human perspective? :chin:
• 2.1k
Thanks Mark! Likewise you are coming over as an intelligent new contributor to the forum. We can put aside the past altercation.

Retrocausation would seem quite a disturbing concept for philosophy: many ideas and principles would be effected. Not as disruptive as causeless effects, but still disruptive. Still, QM suggests seemingly unnaturalistic non-local interactions are possible - so I guess we need to keep an open mind as to what is possible.
• 1.6k
I guess we need to keep an open mind as to what is possible.

Yes! And so perhaps it is worth considering, as my OP requests, whether the axiom of causality is universally applicable? After all, axioms are accepted without discussion or dispute, just as dogma must be, in some religious contexts. Maybe it's worthwhile questioning any or all axioms, to the extent that this is possible? [N.B. I ask that we consider, not attack, these axioms.]
• 213
Sorry, I'd have to disagree with that. Perhaps we could say instead that "Guesswork is the bedrock of reality", at least from a human perspective? :chin:

He claims to have shown to several sigma. It seems to make some sense that cause and effect can't go on forever.
• 2.1k
Maybe it's worthwhile questioning any or all axioms, to the extent that this is possible?

We base all our physical axioms on common experience (or should do, as you might know, I have a beef with the axiom of infinity). Our common experience (as the human race) is limited when compared to the total size of this (and any other) reality. Causality appears to hold as far as we can see with our telescopes, but that might only be a tiny fraction of the totality of existence.

Causality seems to me to be in the same class as an axiom like 'the whole is greater than the parts' (which incidentally disagrees with the maths of infinity) - it is an axiom that I base my understanding of the world on. But its not necessarily right - here I think we are entering the realm of epistemology - how can we ever be sure of anything? We can say that contradictions are not possible like square circles but even that depends on the law of noncontradiction which is not provable. Epistemology is a big subject which I only have a passing acquaintance with.
• 1.6k
an axiom like 'the whole is greater than the parts'

That's an axiom? I thought it was just a saying; folklore? :chin:
• 2.1k
It's one of the ones I put trust in personally (I also like 'cause and effect', 'everything has a start' 'everything is finite'). What are your axioms? What do you base your understanding of the world on?
• 1.6k

Personally, I have none. Science and mathematics have axioms. It's an impressive-sounding synonym for "guess", to avoid directly admitting to guesswork. Axioms are things scientists hope are true, and believe are true, but for which there is no proof, or even supporting evidence. They are accepted without challenge or doubt. Exactly like (religious) dogma: axioms are things you must accept if what follows is to make sense.

I have many beliefs. One or two might even be correct. But I don't call them axioms. Where appropriate, I call them "guesses". :wink: :up:
• 2.1k
I have many beliefs. One or two might even be correct. But I don't call them axioms. Where appropriate, I call them "guesses"

So do you build on your 'guesses' with the tools of logic to arrive at (provisional) conclusions?

That's what I do with my 'axioms'. Possibly this is partly a syntactic difference? What I call axioms, you call guesses?

Science then takes things a step further by testing the axioms and the provisional conclusions against reality. Obviously that can be achieved for some philosophical questions (maybe not all). We test cause and effect in our everyday activities for example.

I guess we could introduce a level of confidence for the axioms/guesses. That way we could derive a level of confidence for any derived conclusions.

So for example, I'm pretty sure that the law of non-contradiction should hold in all possible worlds. So I might assign 95% certainty to that.

I'm pretty sure cause and effect hold in time-based worlds, so maybe 90% for that.

Then if I arrive at a conclusion that uses the above two axioms, the combined level of confidence would be 95% * 90% = 85.5%.
• 1.6k
Science then takes things a step further by testing the axioms and the provisional conclusions against reality.

No, it doesn't. That's the purpose of axioms. They are accepted as being true without inquiry or investigation. Axioms are not tested, by science or by anything else. That's what axioms are, and it's what they are for.

An axiom or postulate is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek axíōma (ἀξίωμα) 'that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that which commends itself as evident.'

The term has subtle differences in definition when used in the context of different fields of study. As defined in classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question. As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning.
— Wikipedia
• 2.1k
No, it doesn't. That's the purpose of axioms. They are accepted as being true without inquiry or investigation. Axioms are not tested, by science or by anything else. That's what axioms are, and it's what they are for.

For example, Einstein used for SR two axioms:

1. Speed of light is constant
2. Laws of physics are the same everywhere/when

Both of these axioms have be the subject of very intensive testing by science. The first for example has been derived as 299,792,458 m/s from multiple different experimental approaches.

Sciences axioms are tested wherever possible... that is the scientific method.
• 1.6k
I think you're mistaken. That the speed of light is constant is not an axiom. An axiom, in science, is formally defined, and it refers exclusively to things like the axiom of equality. The speed of light is a universal constant (to the extent that it is constant), not an axiom.
• 2.1k
Einstein assumed the speed of light is constant and then deduced SR from that. Any premise you assume as a basis for logical/mathematical deductions counts as an axiom.
• 1.6k
Any premise you assume as a basis for logical/mathematical deductions counts as an axiom.

No, it doesn't. I suggest you check this out for yourself, since you won't take my word for it. Just as a dividend is something quite specific in arithmetic, so axiom has a specific meaning for science and scientists. This is so whether you believe it or not, or whether you think it should be so. Sorry, but that's how it is.
• 2.1k
This is what Wikipedia says:

'An axiom or postulate is a statement that is taken to be true, to serve as a premise or starting point for further reasoning and arguments. The word comes from the Greek axíōma (ἀξίωμα) 'that which is thought worthy or fit' or 'that which commends itself as evident.'[1][2]

The term has subtle differences in definition when used in the context of different fields of study. As defined in classic philosophy, an axiom is a statement that is so evident or well-established, that it is accepted without controversy or question.[3] As used in modern logic, an axiom is a premise or starting point for reasoning.[4]'

'Axioms play a key role not only in mathematics, but also in other sciences, notably in theoretical physics. In particular, the monumental work of Isaac Newton is essentially based on Euclid's axioms, augmented by a postulate on the non-relation of spacetime and the physics taking place in it at any moment.'

'Regardless, the role of axioms in mathematics and in the above-mentioned sciences is different. In mathematics one neither "proves" nor "disproves" an axiom for a set of theorems; the point is simply that in the conceptual realm identified by the axioms, the theorems logically follow. In contrast, in physics a comparison with experiments always makes sense, since a falsified physical theory needs modification.'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom
• 1.6k
I have already quoted from the Wikipedia entry myself. It isn't great, as regards the particular use to which science puts the term "axiom", but it's a good start. However, what you seem to need is something more like this:
Here is a summary of what you should take from this chapter and into the next. They are, I hope, a fair summary of the structure of modern mathematical logic as a system capable of examining itself and embracing modern physics and mathematics:

[...]

Axioms are not self-evident truths in any sort of rational system, they are unprovable assumptions whose truth or falsehood should always be mentally prefaced with an implicit If we assume that...''. Remembering that ultimately assume'' can make an ass out of u and me, as my wife (a physician, which is a very empirical and untrusting profession) is wont to say. They are really just assertions or propositions to which we give a special primal status and exempt from the necessity of independent proof.
Taken from here.
• 2.1k
I don't think the source you are using addresses axioms in the physical sciences. Axioms are used in the physical sciences and they are testable. As I mentioned earlier SR has two - Wikipedia calls them postulates - another word for an axiom:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postulates_of_special_relativity

In general, to create a theory, you start with some axioms/postulates/premises as Einstein did and then make deductions from those axioms.

Or you do as Newton did and create axioms from observation - his 3 laws of motions are axiomatic - they are assumed to be true - but they are tested assumptions.
• 1.6k
OK, you know best. I retire from this skirmish.
• 2.1k
I'm not sure its completely clear cut, only parts of physics are on a fully axiomatic basis:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_sixth_problem

So the axiomatic method is not used formally and consistently across physics.

So I can see your side of the argument.
Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal