“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Determinism and Ecology

More reasons to dislike clunk causality. It implies a determinist view. Quantum behavior is irreducibly probabilistic. What does that mean? It means that indeterminacy is hard wired into the behavior: it's not as if we could clean up our way of analyzing it and it would then look determined.

So there are physical reasons why determinism doesn't work: we're talking about both sufficient and necessary conditions failing at some point. It means that Hume is in trouble.

But there's another big reason not to like determinism. When you have a probabalistic fact such as the likelihood that you will get cancer if you smoke, and you are a determinist, you can wish that fact away. This is what tobacco companies do. There is no “proven link” between smoking and cancer—but that's evidently not the point.

Likewise, global warming denial takes a leaf out of the determinist notebook. Since there is no obvious link between the rain falling on my head and global warming, it must be untrue.

Or my theory of causality is out of whack.

I'd wager that large complex systems require causality theories that are non-deterministic just like very small quantum scale ones. Clunking is an illusion that happens to medium sized objects such as billiard balls.

1 comment:

Henry Warwick said...

IIRC, true until measured. Once a measurement is made the superstate collapses into "something" and that something is not probabilistic, thus permitting causality (?)